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201  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: October 22, 2014, 10:52:21 AM
That is a VERY nice find.  What happened in his career?
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: October 22, 2014, 10:20:55 AM
As this thread all too eloquently testifies, there is much more here than felonious fellatio. 

Fundamentally transforming America via the profoundly unconstitutional act of mass amnesty is something that MUST be stopped and IS something, especially on top of all the illegal postponements of Obamacare and all the rest of it, that DOES rise to the level of impeachment. 

Whether the impeachment succeeds or not, it seems to me it should succeed in not letting the purported mass amnesty to stand.

203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Met Opera House playing Saudi funded Wahabbi Opera on: October 22, 2014, 10:16:53 AM

Meanwhile, this thread hits 100,000 reads , , ,
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The fog of war at Kobani on: October 21, 2014, 11:10:52 PM
U.S. Cooperated Secretly with Syrian Kurds in Battle Against Islamic State
Kobani Became too Symbolically Important to Lose
Kurds at a cemetery Tuesday mourn three fighters who died in clashes with Islamic State in Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. ENLARGE
Kurds at a cemetery Tuesday mourn three fighters who died in clashes with Islamic State in Suruc, Turkey, near the Syrian border. Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Adam Entous,
Joe Parkinson and
Julian E. Barnes
Updated Oct. 21, 2014 9:35 p.m. ET

In public, the Obama administration argued for weeks that Kobani wasn’t strategically vital to the air campaign against Islamic State extremists. Behind the scenes, however, top officials concluded the Syrian city had become too symbolically important to lose and they raced to save it.

As the U.S. role rapidly evolved, U.S. and Syrian Kurdish commanders began to coordinate air and ground operations far more closely than previously disclosed. A Syrian Kurdish general in a joint operations center in northern Iraq delivered daily battlefield intelligence reports to U.S. military planners, and helped spot targets for airstrikes on Islamic State positions.

In contrast to the lengthy legal debate over U.S. aid to rebels fighting the Syrian regime, U.S. airdrops of weapons to Kobani got a swift nod from administration lawyers—a sign of its importance to the administration.

    Syrian Kurdish Forces Assess Air-Dropped Supplies
    Cost of War Against ISIS So Far: $424 Million

The change in thinking over the fate of one city, described by U.S., Kurdish, Turkish and Syrian opposition officials, shows how dramatically U.S. war aims are shifting. After Islamic State made Kobani a test of its ability to defy U.S. air power, Washington intervened more forcefully than it had initially intended to try to stem the group’s momentum.

In doing so, the U.S. crossed a Rubicon that could herald a more hands-on role in other towns and cities under siege by Islamic State at a time when some U.S. lawmakers question the direction of American strategy and warn of mission creep.

“This is a war of flags. And Kobani was the next place Islamic State wanted to plant its flag,” a senior U.S. official said. “Kobani became strategic.”

The U.S. now is relying on two separate, stateless Kurdish groups in Iraq and Syria as ground forces to back up its air campaign against the extremists.

This has strained U.S. relations with another strategically important ally, Turkey. The U.S. has conferred newfound legitimacy on the Syrian Kurdish militia fighting in Kobani, which is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in neighboring Turkey. The U.S. and Turkey both list the PKK as a terrorist group.

Washington’s decision to send in supplies by air to fighters loyal to the Democratic Union Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PYD, followed a U.S. assessment that the Syrian Kurdish defenders would run out of ammunition in as little as three days.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders told American officials they were considering sending reinforcements from their region to Kobani. To reach the town, they would have to pass through other parts of Syria. U.S. defense officials looked at the route and told the Kurds it would be a suicide mission.

The U.S. asked the Turkish government to let Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross through Turkish territory to reinforce Kobani. U.S. officials said Turkey agreed in principal and that Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, proposed sending a specially trained force of Syrian Kurdish refugees.

But events on the ground forced Washington’s hand. U.S. contacts in Kobani sent out an urgent SOS.

“We needed weaponry and fast,” said Idris Nassan, the deputy foreign minister of the Kobani regional government.

To tide the Kurds over until Turkey opens a land corridor, U.S. Gen. Lloyd Austin, who runs the air campaign against Islamic State, decided on a delicate plan: dropping supplies using C-130 cargo planes.

The U.S. didn’t think Islamic State fighters had sophisticated antiaircraft weapons, but the Pentagon decided out of caution to fly under cover of darkness.

Gen. Austin presented the proposal to the White House on Friday. President Barack Obama approved it immediately, U.S. officials said.

Until recently, the White House wouldn’t even acknowledge U.S. contacts with the PYD because of its close ties to the PKK and the diplomatic sensitivities over that in Turkey.

At the White House, Gen. Austin argued last week for resupplying Kobani without Turkey’s consent, U.S. officials said. He warned that the city’s fall would be a recruitment bonanza for Islamic State, leading to an infusion of fresh fighters and newfound momentum while reinforcing its narrative of inevitable expansion.

Resupplying fighters in Kobani wouldn’t normally be a quick decision, both for logistical and political reasons. But administration officials said they saw few alternatives. The U.S. had long kept the Syrian Kurds at arm’s length out of deference to Turkey.

But officials were desperate for partners on the ground on the Syrian side of the border. In recent days, the Kurdish fighters had made gains.

U.S. contacts with the Syrian Kurdish leadership began as indirect and secret.

Then-U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, during stops in Paris, started meeting in early 2013 with an intermediary there of the PYD. After each contact, U.S. officials briefed Turkish counterparts. Daniel Rubinstein, Mr. Ford’s successor, and other officials expanded the dialogue.
Embattled Kobani DigitalGlobe/UNITAR/UNOSAT

The Syrian Kurdish group’s objective during the talks was to persuade the Americans to provide them with military support to fight Islamic State.

“If there is one moderate force in Syria, that’s us,” said Khaled Saleh, the group’s representative in France who took part in many of the preliminary discussions.

For the Syrian Kurdish leaders, progress at first was frustratingly slow.

The U.S. became more responsive over the summer, after Islamic State seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

U.S. intelligence officers were impressed with the Syrian Kurdish fighters’ track record in combating Islamic State. When the fighters crossed the border into Iraq to help save members of the Yazidi religious minority, policy makers in Washington took note, U.S. officials said. Some Syrian Kurdish commanders are Yazidis by religion.

The Syrian Kurds had other appeal to U.S. policy makers. The fighting force is avowedly secular and pro-Western. It fields female fighters and is committed to combating Islamic State. Kurdish officials say several Americans, including two ex-marines, and dozens of European volunteers, have enlisted to fight alongside the Kurds in Kobani.

Impressed by its military performance, the U.S. decided to invite a representative of the group to sit in the coalition’s joint operations center in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to liaise with special military units in Kobani collecting battlefield intelligence and coordinates for airstrikes.

Kurdish officials said Islamic State turned its sights on Kobani to make an example of the Syrian Kurdish fighters, whose battlefield successes in Iraq had embarrassed the group.

When the U.S. first started bombing Islamic State targets near Kobani, the goal was to kill as many Islamic State fighters as possible.

“When we see them in great numbers, we take them out,” a senior U.S. official said, adding that extremists “kept coming, so we kept hitting them.”

As Islamic State poured resources into the battle, views in Washington of Kobani’s importance began to change.

Mr. Obama’s special envoys in the campaign against Islamic State, Gen. John Allen and Brett McGurk, arrived in Ankara Oct. 9 for talks. By then, the U.S. already had planned to step up the pace of airstrikes in Kobani, but also knew that wouldn’t be enough.

Turkish officials made clear to the U.S. delegation that they didn’t want Kobani to fall—but they didn’t want to inadvertently empower Kurdish fighters close to the PKK. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish fighters as one in the same.

The Turkish and American officials agreed broadly that the Iraqi Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga should play a significant role in Kobani’s defense, but the details about how to bring Kurdish reinforcement to Kobani still needed to be worked out.

After the talks in Ankara, Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr. Barzani, who proposed sending the special security force made up of Syrian Kurdish refugees who had been trained in northern Iraq.

The U.S. and Turkey disagreed about how long Kurdish forces in Kobani could hold out, with the U.S. assessing it would be only a few days while the Turks thought it could be longer.

When Kurdish commanders sent out their urgent appeal, Gen. Austin decided the U.S. couldn’t afford to wait, officials said.

He saw an opportunity, defense officials said.

“By stopping them, and by doing tremendous damage to them, you begin to blunt the sense of momentum, particularly in Syria,” a senior administration official said.

The proposal drew legal scrutiny from lawyers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Technically, the Syrian Kurdish leadership wasn’t on the terror list, as was the PKK, they said.

The lawyers also found that the legal bar was lower in this case because the U.S. would be sending Mr. Barzani’s arms, rather than delivering U.S. weapons. There was little debate, meeting participants said.

In the final White House meeting, National Security Adviser Susan Rice laid out the potential diplomatic and legal implications of the airdrop. She didn’t say ‘no’ but she wanted concerns to be raised, a senior U.S. official said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Mr. Obama the operation was urgently needed.

The equipment that was to be delivered beginning on Sunday was shipped from Erbil to Kuwait, the major U.S. logistics hub in the Middle East. There, soldiers prepared packages for the airdrop, defense officials said.

Medical supplies were rigged to drop with high velocity parachutes that are accurate, but that hit the ground with force. Ammunition, however, would be at risk of exploding if dropped with a high velocity chute. So soldiers in Kuwait rigged the ammunition packages with equipment known as the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPAD. The JPADs are guided by GPS, making them highly accurate despite the fact they drop slowly from over 10,000 feet.

As planes crossed over Kobani, nearly all of the high velocity parachutes hit their mark.

At least one of the JPADs sustained a malfunction in its parachute, drifting away from its target zone and into an area controlled by Islamic State.

Turkey on Monday confirmed it would allow the Peshmerga to cross its territory but as of Tuesday, no forces had reached Kobani and talks on the parameters of their mission were ongoing, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

U.S. officials said the outcome in Kobani remains far from certain but the operation could have implications for fighters in other towns facing Islamic State.

“Given where we are now, we’re there to help the people who are able to resist,” a senior U.S. official said.
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: October 21, 2014, 08:48:08 PM
If the Reps take the Senate and IF IF IF this turns out to be as it appears, I am game for impeachment.

What I am NOT game for is quitting.

Our Founding Fathers gave us a Republic.  It is up to us to keep it.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 21, 2014, 08:45:09 PM
I allowed myself to get suckered into clicking on that girlfriend meme.  There's nothing there as far as I can tell.  30 seconds of my life I won't ever get back.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mass Amnesty appears to be under way. on: October 21, 2014, 05:47:03 PM
Don’t Be Fooled: Obama’s Agenda for Amnesty Has Already Begun

It would be refreshing if the Obama administration would do something right on the issue of immigration. Unfortunately for America, some hopes never result in change. Lawlessness continues to dominate White House policy.

To be clear, Barack Obama continues to completely disregard Rule of Law when it comes to immigration. He has usurped authority in order to keep our borders open to whoever wants to enter. He has refused to pressure the agencies tasked with enforcing laws on immigration to find and deport those who are here illegally. He has not only allowed tens of thousands of children from Central America to be transported into America illegally, but he has then redistributed them to cities throughout the U.S.
Last month, we reported that Obama, at the request of several prominent Democrats, delayed action on immigration reform (read: amnesty) because too many congressional seats might be lost over the issue come November. For the moment, it's on the backburner with the timer set to ring after the election. Yet the issue of immigration, specifically illegal immigration, is on the minds of voters who love this country enough to try and save it from a rogue administration bent on permanently changing the demographics of the nation in order to ensure a permanent Democrat voting bloc.

The president has every intention to move forward with his agenda of allowing illegal immigrants to flood the country. A new report highlights actions the Obama administration has already undertaken.

Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started soliciting bids for a contractor to produce nine million identification cards in one year -- five million more than the annual requirement so as to meet a possible “surge” scenario of new immigrants. The new ID cards will consist of Permanent Residency Cards (also known as green cards) or Employment Authorization Documentation cards, which, according to the report, “have been used to implement President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”

The request for so many new ID cards to accommodate the “surge” indicates Obama is planning executive action. But the immigration reform policies he wants to impose on the nation will be overwhelming for our struggling economy, as well as schools and medical facilities across the nation. This, however, is just part of the path to amnesty for illegals.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also quietly announced last Friday that, as National Review's Mark Krikorian puts it, "Certain illegal aliens from Honduras and Nicaragua are having their amnesty extended, and USCIS is establishing the 'Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.'” These illegal immigrants, estimated to number 90,000, have already had Temporary Protected Status since 1999, which was granted to them following Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Fifteen years of “Temporary Protected Status?” Sounds more like Permanent Protected Status, which is exactly what the new parole program will allow. It’s another frequently deployed deceitful Obama tactic -- just change the meaning of words in order to accommodate the agenda.

To make matters worse, another recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies reveals, “[D]eportations from within the United States dropped 34 percent from last year and the number of criminal alien deportations declined by 23 percent.” Further, of the 900,000 immigrants who received a final order of removal, “167,000 are convicted criminals who were released by ICE.” Why aren’t the agencies tasked with enforcing the law on illegal immigration doing their job?

The answer is simple: When a president has an agenda to fundamentally transform America, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish it. He must be stopped. But who will stop him? The current Congress has done little because Democrats control the Senate, and they continue to appropriate money for Obama's agenda. That must change on Election Day, or amnesty will steamroll ahead, to the peril of our already fragile Republic.
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Liberal Fascism vs. The First Amendment on: October 21, 2014, 05:40:25 PM
Liberals attack First Amendment in Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas and Idaho
Published by: Dan Calabrese
Speech isn't free if politicians don't like it.

The Wall Street Journal has lately been performing a real public service by chronicling the efforts of Wisconsin lawmakers, prosecutors and some judges to basically obliterate the First Amendment as it pertains to political speech. No one has passed a law saying you can be arrested for what you say. The usurpation of liberty never works like that. Rather, a complicated web of bureaucracies and legal authorities have established regulations in the name of "fairness" or "good goverment" or "transparency" or what-have-you.

The real-life impact is set traps for advocacy groups who aren't trying to do anything but speak and be heard, and in the process are liable to find themselves in trouble with the law because they failed to follow a Byzantine set of rules and restrictions established by the very politicians who don't want them speaking too effectively - or spending too much of their own money to advocate things that might not be in these politicians' best interests.

The particular rules in play here concern "collaboration" between independent advocacy groups and political candidates. To a normal person, that's the simple exercise of your free-speech rights. To the political class, that's cause for a jailin':

It’s important to understand that this political attack on “coordination” is part of a larger liberal campaign. The Brennan Center—the George Soros-funded brains of the movement to restrict political speech—issued a report this month that urges regulators to police coordination between individuals and candidates as if it were a crime.
The report raises alarms that independent expenditures have exploded since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, as if trying to influence elections isn’t normal in a democracy. The political left wants to treat independent expenditures as a “contribution” to candidates limited under campaign-finance law to $2,600 per election. That would essentially ban independent issue advocacy, since you can’t buy much air time for $2,600.

Such regulation is also an assault on freedom of association. If like-minded people can’t pool resources to influence elections, they are essentially shut out of modern political debate.

All the more so if citizens who do join together can be harassed by regulators or prosecutors. That’s clearly the intention of the Brennan speech enforcers, who survey state efforts to regulate speech and urge others to pick up the truncheon.

By the way, lest you try to blame Gov. Scott Walker for this, be aware that his allies have been the fattest targets for Democrat prosecutors trying to use these regulations to control who can say what in Wisconsin.

But Wisconsin is far from the only state where politicians are trying this gambit. reports that politicians in their state are taking direct aim at the First Amendment, under the guise of limiting evil corporate spending on political races:

On Thursday, the Illinois Senate’s Executive Committee passed a resolution by a vote of 11-4 that calls for a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The Citizens United decision simply held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting anyone’s independent political speech. The court held that, although the government can place certain limits on campaign contributions, it cannot limit how much someone spends independently to speak (or write) about a candidate or political issues.

And that makes perfect sense. If the right to free speech means anything, it must mean that you are free to speak as much as you want, as long as you’re spending your own money.

Incumbent officeholders don’t like that, though, because they would rather not face unlimited criticism.

This sentiment is shared by party leaders on both sides of the aisle in Illinois. This week alone, Senate President John Cullerton co-sponsored the Senate resolution, while House Minority Leader Jim Durkin lashed out against independent groups and said they should face greater legal restrictions.

It’s not surprising that Cullerton and Durkin in particular would feel that way. Along with House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, they are the only people in the state who are legally allowed to direct as much money as they want to the political campaigns of their choosing, through the political parties and “legislative caucus committees” they control. Everyone else in Illinois is limited in how much they can give by the campaign-contribution caps the General Assembly passed in 2009.

Meanwhile, as we told you yesterday, Christian pastors in C'oeur D'Aline, Idaho are being threatened with fines and jail time unless they agree to perform gay "weddings." Once again, no one is going to pass a law outlawing Christianity. They know they can't get away with that. Instead, they impose requirements - ostensibly in opposition to "discrimination" or whatever - that threaten you with sanctions if you run your business in a way that actually adheres to your faith. The impact is the same. You have freedom to practice religion in theory, but in reality you can only practice it to the extent that the state deems acceptable.

And of course, in Houston, the city is attempting to subpoena the sermons of local pastorslest they find they criticized the lesbian mayor or a "human rights ordinance" the mayor favored. This is ostensibly about enforcing election laws in relation to churches' tax exemptions, but that's a crock. It's about outlawing speech politicians don't like.
All of this is the inevitable result of a government that grows in scope and influence because a majority of the electorate expects it to solve every problem that ever existed, even if the problems only affect politicians.

If politicians don't like others spending money to criticize them, too bad. If a Christian wedding chapel doesn't want to perform a gay "wedding," then the homosexuals need to go ask someone else. (And the same applies to bakers, florists, photographers, etc.) We don't need a system in which they react to such a rebuke by complaining to authorities. If pastors encourage people to vote in a certain way, then they do. No one needs to do anything about it.

Of course, the tax code becomes an issue here. The tax code is so onerous that organizations like churches can't hope to survive unless they get an exemption, and applying for the exemption gives the IRS de facto control over how they operate. The solution is not to change the rules governing exemptions. It's to throw out the entire tax code and adopt a new, simple, non-oppressive one that doesn't require anyone to get an exemption.

The bottom line is this: A government so big that it can provide you with everything puts you in a position where you need things from government, and then you're at the mercy of your provider to set rules you can live with. A government that thinks it's responsible for solving every problem will go ahead and "solve" the "problem" presented by your exercise of your rights.

It used to be that liberals claimed to love the First Amendment, but that was before it threatened their power. People of faith especially threaten their power because we answer to a power higher than them, so they try to use their rule-making authority to bring us under control.

If the First Amendment is a casualty, well, that was only valuable to them when it was useful to them. And when you think about it, the same is true of you.

You know, you just might like Dan's books too! Go here to get his series of Christian spiritual thrillers - Powers and Principalities, Pharmakeia and Dark Matter - in print or e-book form, or read his teaching on spiritual matters. You can follow all of Dan's work by liking his page on Facebook.

209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 21, 2014, 03:15:05 PM
Awesome find-- what is the date? Is there a URL?
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: October 21, 2014, 03:12:56 PM
Oy , , ,  tongue angry rolleyes cry
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH Surprise! Too many being swept up on mental health no guns list in NY on: October 21, 2014, 01:37:38 PM
Maybe my friend Dr. Donald Miller, with whom I have discussed variations of this, can chime in:
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kobani ensnares ISIS on: October 21, 2014, 01:18:14 PM


Kurdish People's Protection Units and Free Syrian Army forces continue to battle Islamic State fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The United States announced Oct. 19 that U.S. Air Force C-130 transport aircraft dropped containers of weapons, ammunition and medical aid to the town’s defenders. Washington reportedly informed Turkey of the move in advance. Now, Ankara has said it will allow Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross Turkish borders and move into Kobani to bolster the town's defenses.

Given Turkey’s previous reluctance to support Kurdish fighters, Ankara appears to be altering its approach following considerable pressure from Washington and other allies. Turkey is keen to maintain strong ties with the United States and is willing to make compromises, which will also help preserve the integrity of its alliances in Europe and the Middle East. Despite this shift, however, Ankara remains wary of directly aiding the People's Protection Units, commonly viewed by the government as terrorists and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. Regardless, allowing Kurdish fighters to cross the border will only make it harder and costlier for the Islamic State to take Kobani.

The Islamic State arguably accomplished its objectives in Kobani weeks ago when it seized virtually all of the area except for the town itself. This allowed Islamic State fighters to shorten the route between the captured border crossing towns of Jarabulus and Tal Abyad by not having to circumvent Kobani. Stratfor previously noted that Kobani is of very little strategic or even operational value to the Islamic State, and the taking of the town will have extremely little effect on the direction of the conflict in Syria. Numerous Islamic State fighters apparently recognized this fact early on and reportedly sought to prioritize other battlefronts, but were overruled by top Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Nevertheless, it is clear by now that the Islamic State -- perhaps for symbolic reasons or because of operational momentum -- has greatly prioritized the seizure of Kobani and has devoted significant resources and manpower to the effort.
Kobani's Fatal Lure
Click to Enlarge
Echoing Germany's disastrous obsession with Stalingrad in 1942, despite having already isolated and reduced the city, the Islamic State's leaders have elected to continue pouring hundreds of fighters into Kobani. They now face a difficult urban battle against determined fighters who are entrenched in prepared positions and supported by coalition air power. By assembling large numbers of fighters and equipment, the Islamic State has created a target-rich environment for the U.S.-led coalition. From the start of the battle, weeks ago, surveillance and reconnaissance overflights have progressively improved the coalition's situational awareness, leading to airstrikes of more damaging accuracy and intensity. Over the last four days alone the United States and its Arab allies executed more than 60 airstrikes in Kobani.

The strikes have been disastrous for the Islamic State, which has lost hundreds of experienced fighters. Reports indicate that the group is doubling down on its flawed strategy by sending further reinforcements from its bastions of Raqaa and Tabqa to continue the assault. Ankara's decision to open a route for Kurdish reinforcements into Kobani further hinders the Islamic State's mission, but it is not as damning for the extremists as a Turkish committal of ground forces. Such a move appears unlikely for the time being. Although Turkey has significant amounts of men and materiel amassed on the border, there is no political will to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict. Ankara will make limited concessions, stopping short of full engagement against the Islamic State. With a coalition willing to maintain air operations and facilitate training for select rebels, Turkey can afford to bide its time for now while dealing with more pressing domestic issues.
A Risky Strategy

The Islamic State has mired itself in a foolhardy frontal assault against a marginal objective, and in doing so it has failed to address ominous developments in more vital Islamic State-controlled areas of Syria. In particular, Syrian forces have capitalized on a weak extremist presence in the critical and far larger city of Deir el-Zour, launching attacks against a reduced enemy. These attacks have enjoyed considerable success, driving Islamic State fighters from several neighborhoods in the city and destroying a number of bridges critical to the jihadists' logistical operations.

The Islamic State continues to make gains in Iraq's Anbar province, mainly because of its superior tactical skill and operational acumen against Iraq's security forces. Had the Islamic State elected to send hundreds or thousands of fighters to Anbar instead of exposing them to the concentrated attacks in Kobani, it is highly likely that the jihadist organization would have been able to achieve considerably more success in a far more vital region.

The battle for Kobani is not yet over, and there remains the possibility that the Islamic State could prevail and seize the town. Were that to happen, however, the damaging truth is that the Islamic State’s obsession with Kobani has already set the group back considerably. With world media focused on the defensive Kurdish and Free Syrian Army fighters holding out against repeated Islamic State attacks, the extremists are handing a propaganda victory to their enemies. Even when the Islamic State does take ground, any success turns into a rallying cry for its opponents. Most important, replacing the severe losses it has already suffered will be difficult for the Islamic State. By devoting disproportionate resources and personnel to seize a town of marginal importance, the Islamic State has distracted itself from more pressing issues in Syria, thereby missing opportunities to achieve further success in Iraq.

Read more: Kobani Ensnares the Islamic State | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jerusalem anarchy on: October 21, 2014, 12:37:19 PM
Click here to watch: Netanyahu Furious over Jerusalem Anarchy, Demands Crackdown

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has spelled out his plan for restoring order to neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Arab attacks on Jews have become daily occurrences, and said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also forcefully demanded action by the security forces in a recent high-level discussion. Barkat enumerated the neighborhoods currently under attack – from Armon Hanatziv, Har Homa, and Gilo in southern Jerusalem, through the Mount of Olives area, Issawiya and Silwan, northward to Shuafat and Beit Hanina, where the Light Rail has repeatedly come under brutal attack. He commended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who he said took very seriously the letter Barkat sent him earlier this month, demanding action against the riots in Jerusalem. Netanyahu gathered the Public Security Minister and top police commanders, he said, for a discussion immediately after Yom Kippur. "I have to tell you,” Barkat said, “that I saw the prime minister banging angrily on the table, and committed to make the necessary change, so that the residents of Jerusalem and visitors to Jerusalem, in the seam line neighborhoods, including the Arab neighborhoods, will feel safer than they do at the moment.” In an interview on Galei Yisrael Radio, Barkat said police special forces units in Jerusalem need to be “doubled” in size – at one point, he said 100 Yassam policemen need to be added to the force – and to adopt a more aggressive posture. Instead of waiting inside the Jewish neighborhoods for Arabs to attack – the forces should enter the Arab neighborhoods and use their intelligence gathering abilities to nip attacks in the bud, he explained

Watch Here

Drones and balloons will start to be used by police in Jerusalem for intelligence gathering against the rioters in the coming days, he revealed. In order for the steps to be effective, however, punishment also needs to be made more severe, according to the mayor. Barkat admitted in an interview with Kalman Libeskind that municipal vehicles no longer enter certain neighborhoods because doing so requires a police escort and such escorts are not available. He denied that the Jerusalem Municipality is trying to cover up the seriousness of the attacks on the Light Rail, and the security situation in Jerusalem in general. However, the mayor appears to have made an about face on this matter from his earlier position, which blamed the Light Rail for reporting attacks against it to the press, and preferred to hush-up the "silent intifada" because the reports about it were bad for business. Barkat accused Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich of laxness in the face of the challenge in Jerusalem. "Unfortunately,” Barkat wrote in his letter to Netanyahu, “the Public Security Minister isn't providing Jerusalem police with the needed means so that it can defeat the rioters." Barkat said he had seen a video shot recently by residents of Armon Hanatziv, showing them being attacked brazenly by Arab youths who appeared to control the streets, and who were hurling rocks at the residents' homes.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VP Cheney's son discharged from military for cocaine! Media in frenzy! on: October 17, 2014, 12:55:30 PM
Navy Discharges Biden's Son for Drug Use
This has got to be awkward for Joe Biden. For years, he has championed a tough "inherent resolve" in the war on drugs. When he was a young whippersnapper senator during the Reagan years, Biden advocated for a "drug czar" to lead the charge against Colombian snow, Mexican brown and Mary Jane. And when Biden made it to the White House, even when other Democrats fell away and admitted the war on drugs was too draconian, the number two Democrat still pushed the Obama administration towards tougher drug policy. But now, the U.S. Navy has discharged Joe Biden's son, Hunter, because he tested positive for cocaine use. Biden's office is refusing to comment, saying Hunter is a private citizen. We wonder what Joe thinks of his policies now -- of the tough incarceration rates, of the SWAT teams -- since his own son has fallen into the net Biden helped weave. And then imagine for a moment Biden was a Republican.
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: October 17, 2014, 12:52:14 PM
And here is a follow up to the preceding:

Texas AG to Houston: Stop Assaulting Religious Liberty
The city of Houston recently subpoenaed five pastors for all sermons and correspondence dealing with gender disorientation pathology, or mentioning Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian. The city was effectively targeting any religious objection to its recent Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). The city poked the bear, however, provoking a groundswell of opposition to this constitutional abuse. That now includes a harshly worded letter from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor. “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote to Houston City Attorney David Feldman. “You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the city’s subpoenas." Mayor Parker implied the city would back off, but it has yet to do so
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 17, 2014, 12:43:03 PM
Off to Mex City in 90 minutes.  Back Monday night.  Don't know how much internet I will have while there.
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2014, 12:42:08 PM
URL for the Wiki entry please?
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ayatollah said "No Nukes!" on: October 17, 2014, 12:03:38 PM
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FSA? Who? Never heard of them , , , on: October 17, 2014, 11:36:10 AM

Arm the moderate Syrian rebels, they said. Then we'll be able to counter ISIL effectively, they said. Well, say goodbye to the Free Syrian Army as an American ally. "John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition's response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months: that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists," reports Stars and Stripes. The reasons are simple and entirely predictable. The FSA suffered from "a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al-Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front." The Obama administration is going to have a tough time explaining how, without American boots on the ground, we're going to select, form and train an army to oppose ISIL in Syria
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Six Reasons to Panic on: October 17, 2014, 10:01:59 AM
Third post

Six Reasons to Panic
Jonathan V. Last - The Weekly Standard
October 27, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 07

As a rule, one should not panic at whatever crisis has momentarily fixed the attention of cable news producers. But the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has migrated to both Europe and America, may be the exception that proves the rule. There are at least six reasons that a controlled, informed panic might be in order.

(1) Start with what we know, and don’t know, about the virus. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies claim that contracting Ebola is relatively difficult because the virus is only transmittable by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person who has become symptomatic. Which means that, in theory, you can’t get Ebola by riding in the elevator with someone who is carrying the virus, because Ebola is not airborne.

This sounds reassuring. Except that it might not be true. There are four strains of the Ebola virus that have caused outbreaks in human populations. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the current outbreak (known as Guinean EBOV, because it originated in Meliandou, Guinea, in late November 2013) is a separate clade “in a sister relationship with other known EBOV strains.” Meaning that this Ebola is related to, but genetically distinct from, previous known strains, and thus may have distinct mechanisms of transmission.

Not everyone is convinced that this Ebola isn’t airborne. Last month, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy published an article arguing that the current Ebola has “unclear modes of transmission” and that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients, which means that healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks.”

And even if this Ebola isn’t airborne right now, it might become so in the future. Viruses mutate and evolve in the wild, and the population of infected Ebola carriers is now bigger than it has been at any point in history—meaning that the pool for potential mutations is larger than it has ever been. As Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, explained to the Los Angeles Times last week,

I see the reasons to dampen down public fears. But scientifically, we’re in the middle of the first experiment of multiple, serial passages of Ebola virus in man. .  .  . God knows what this virus is going to look like. I don’t.

In August, Science magazine published a survey conducted by 58 medical professionals working in African epidemiology. They traced the origin and spread of the virus with remarkable precision—for instance, they discovered that it crossed the border from Guinea into Sierra Leone at the funeral of a “traditional healer” who had treated Ebola victims. In just the first six months of tracking the virus, the team identified more than 100 mutated forms of it.

Yet what’s really scary is how robust the already-established transmission mechanisms are. Have you ever wondered why Ebola protocols call for washing down infected surfaces with chlorine? Because the virus can survive for up to three weeks on a dry surface.

How robust is transmission? Look at the health care workers who have contracted it. When Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who was part of the team caring for Liberian national Thomas Duncan, contracted Ebola, the CDC quickly blamed her for “breaching protocol.” But to the extent that we have effective protocols for shielding people from Ebola, they’re so complex that even trained professionals, who are keenly aware that their lives are on the line, can make mistakes.

By the by, that Science article written by 58 medical professionals tracing the emergence of Ebola—5 of them died from Ebola before it was published.

(2) General infection rates are terrifying, too. In epidemiology, you measure the “R0,” or “reproduction number” of a virus; that is, how many new infections each infected person causes. When R0 is greater than 1, the virus is spreading through a population. When it’s below 1, the contamination is receding. In September the World Health Organization’s Ebola Response Team estimated the R0 to be at 1.71 in Guinea and 2.02 in Sierra Leone. Since then, it seems to have risen so that the average in West Africa is about 2.0. In September the WHO estimated that by October 20, there would be 3,000 total cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As of October 7, the count was 8,376.

In other words, rather than catching up with Ebola, we’re falling further behind. And we’re likely to continue falling behind, because physical and human resources do not scale virally. In order to stop the spread of Ebola, the reproduction number needs to be more than halved from its current rate. Yet reducing the reproduction number only gets harder as the total number of cases increases, because each case requires resources—facilities, beds, doctors, nurses, decontamination, and secure burials—which are already lagging well behind need. The latest WHO projections suggest that by December 1 we are likely to see 10,000 new cases in West Africa per week, at which point the virus could begin spreading geographically within the continent as it nears the border with Ivory Coast.

Thus far, officials have insisted that it will be different in America. On September 30, CDC director Thomas Frieden confirmed the first case of Ebola in the United States, the aforementioned Thomas Duncan. Frieden then declared, “We will stop Ebola in its tracks in the U.S. .  .  . The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

The word “widely” is key. Because despite the fact that Duncan was a lone man under scrupulous, first-world care, with the eyes of the entire nation on him, his R0 was 2, just like that of your average Liberian Ebola victim. One carrier; two infections. He passed the virus to nurse Pham and to another hospital worker, Amber Joy Vinson, who flew from Cleveland to Dallas with a low-grade fever before being diagnosed.

(3) Do you really want to be scared? What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car? A flight from Roberts International in Monrovia to JFK in New York is less than $2,000, meaning that the planning and infrastructure needed for such an attack is relatively trivial. This scenario may be highly unlikely. But so were the September 11 attacks and the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing, both of which resulted in the creation of a permanent security apparatus around airports. We take drastic precautions all the time, if the potential losses are serious enough, so long as officials are paying attention to the threat.

(4) Let’s put aside the Ebola-as-weapon scenario—some things are too depressing to contemplate at length—and look at the range of scenarios for what we have in front of us, from best-case to worst-case. The epidemiological protocols for containing Ebola rest on four pillars: contact tracing, case isolation, safe burial, and effective public information. On October 14, the New York Times reported that in Liberia, with “only” 4,000 cases, “Schools have shut down, elections have been postponed, mining and logging companies have withdrawn, farmers have abandoned their fields.” Which means that the baseline for “best-case” is already awful.

In September, the CDC ran a series of models on the spread of the virus and came up with a best-case scenario in which, by January 2015, Liberia alone would have a cumulative 11,000 to 27,000 cases. That’s in a world where all of the aid and personnel gets where it needs to be, the resident population behaves rationally, and everything breaks their way. The worst-case scenario envisioned by the model is anywhere from 537,000 to 1,367,000 cases by January. Just in Liberia. With the fever still raging out of control.

By which point, all might well be lost. Anthony Banbury is coordinating the response from the United Nations, which, whatever its many shortcomings, is probably the ideal organization to take the lead on Ebola. Banbury’s view is chilling: “The WHO advises within 60 days we must ensure 70 percent of infected people are in a care facility and 70 percent of burials are done without causing further infection. .  .  . We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan [emphasis added]”.

What’s terrifying about the worst-case scenario isn’t just the scale of human devastation and misery. It’s that the various state actors and the official health establishment have already been overwhelmed with infections in only the four-digit range. And if the four pillars—contact tracing, case isolation, safe burial, and effective public information—fail, no one seems to have even a theoretical plan for what to do.
(5) And by the way, things could get worse. All of those worst-case projections assume that the virus stays contained in a relatively small area of West Africa, which, with a million people infected, would be highly unlikely. What happens if and when the virus starts leaking out to other parts of the world?

Marine Corps General John F. Kelly talked about Ebola at the National Defense University two weeks ago and mused about what would happen if Ebola reached Haiti or Central America, which have relatively easy access to America. “If it breaks out, it’s literally ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”

It isn’t crazy to see how a health crisis could beget all sorts of other crises, from humanitarian, to economic, to political, to existential. If you think about Ebola and mutation and aerosolization and R0 for too long, you start to get visions of Mad Max cruising the postapocalyptic landscape with Katniss Everdeen at his side.

(6) While we’re on the subject of political crisis, it’s worth noting that the politics of Ebola are uncertain and dangerous to everyone involved. Thus far, there’s been only one serious political clash over Ebola, and that’s concerning the banning of flights to and from the infected countries in West Africa. The Obama administration refuses to countenance such a move, with the CDC’s Frieden flatly calling it “wrong”:

A travel ban is not the right answer. It’s simply not feasible to build a wall—virtual or real—around a community, city, or country. A travel ban would essentially quarantine the more than 22 million people that make up the combined populations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

When a wildfire breaks out we don’t fence it off. We go in to extinguish it before one of the random sparks sets off another outbreak somewhere else.

We don’t want to isolate parts of the world, or people who aren’t sick, because that’s going to drive patients with Ebola underground, making it infinitely more difficult to address the outbreak. .  .  .

Importantly, isolating countries won’t keep Ebola contained and away from American shores. Paradoxically, it will increase the risk that Ebola will spread in those countries and to other countries, and that we will have more patients who develop Ebola in the U.S.

Not terribly convincing, is it? Wildfires, in fact, are often fought by using controlled burns and trench digging to establish perimeters. And it’s a straw-man argument to say that a flight ban wouldn’t keep Ebola fully contained. No one says it would. But by definition, it would help slow the spread of the virus. If there had been a travel ban in place, Thomas Duncan would have likely reached the same sad fate—but without infecting two Americans and setting the virus loose in North America. And it’s difficult to follow the logic by which banning travel from infected countries would create more infections in the United States, as Frieden insists. This is not a paradox; it’s magical thinking.
Frieden’s entire argument is so strange—and so at odds with what other epidemiologists prescribe—that it can only be explained by one of two causes: catastrophic incompetence or a prior ideological commitment. The latter, in this case, might well be the larger issue of immigration.

Ebola has the potential to reshuffle American attitudes to immigration. If you agree to seal the borders to mitigate the risks from Ebola, you’re implicitly rejecting the “open borders” mindset and admitting that there are cases in which government has a duty to protect citizens from outsiders. Some people on the left admit to seeing this as the thin end of the wedge. Writing in the New Yorker, Michael Specter lamented, “Several politicians, like Governor Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, have turned the epidemic into fodder for their campaign to halt immigration.” And that sort of thing just can’t be allowed.

What would happen in the event of an Ebola outbreak in Latin America? Then America would have to worry about masses of uninfected immigrants surging across the border—not to mention carriers of the virus. And if we had decided it was okay to cut off flights from West Africa, would we decide it was okay to try to seal the Southern border too? You can see how the entire immigration project might start to come apart.

So for now, the Obama administration will insist on keeping travel open between infected countries and the West and hope that they, and we, get lucky.

At a deeper level, the Ebola outbreak is a crisis not for Obama and his administration, but for elite institutions. Because once more they have been exposed as either corrupt, incompetent, or both. On September 16, as he was trying to downplay the threat posed by Ebola, President Obama insisted that “the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.” Less then two weeks later, there was an Ebola outbreak in the United States.

The CDC’s Frieden—who is an Obama appointee—has been almost comically oafish. On September 30, -Frieden declared, “We’re stopping it in its tracks in this country.” On October 13, he said, “We’re concerned, and unfortunately would not be surprised if we did see additional cases.” The next day he admitted that the CDC hadn’t taken the first infection seriously enough: “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient, the first patient, was diagnosed,” he said. “That might have prevented this infection. But we will do that from today onward with any case, anywhere in the U.S. .  .  . We could have sent a more robust hospital infection-control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from Day One.”

The day after that Frieden was asked during a press conference if you could contract Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus—a question prompted by a statement from President Obama the week before, when he declared that you can’t get Ebola “through casual contact, like sitting next to someone on a bus.”

Frieden answered: “I think there are two different parts of that equation. The first is, if you’re a member of the traveling public and are healthy, should you be worried that you might have gotten it by sitting next to someone? And the answer is no. Second, if you are sick and you may have Ebola, should you get on a bus? And the answer to that is also no. You might become ill, you might have a problem that exposes someone around you.”

Go ahead and read that again.

We have arrived at a moment with our elite institutions where it is impossible to distinguish incompetence from willful misdirection. This can only compound an already dangerous situation.
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CBP testimony on: October 17, 2014, 08:02:47 AM
second post

222  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: Groups splinter as bosses fall on: October 17, 2014, 07:48:17 AM
ditor's Note: This week's Security Weekly summarizes our quarterly Mexico drug cartel report, in which we assess the most significant developments of the third quarter of 2014 and provide a forecast for the fourth quarter. The report is a product of the coverage we maintain through our Mexico Security Memo, quarterly updates and other analyses that we produce throughout the year as part of the Mexico Security Monitor service.

By Tristan Reed
Mexico Security Analyst

The Mexican government continued its string of arrests of high-level crime bosses during the third quarter of 2014. Since Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012, leaders of crime syndicates from across Mexico have been falling to federal troops with unusual frequency, including top-tier bosses from Sinaloa, Michoacan and Tamaulipas states, beginning with the arrest of Los Zetas top leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales in July 2013. It has become clear that the Pena Nieto administration is leaving no organized crime group free from government pressure. This trend will dominate the evolution of Mexico's organized crime landscape in the fourth quarter.
Significant Arrests

With the exception of Trevino, troops focused primarily on northwestern crime bosses operating under the Sinaloa Federation's umbrella in the last half of 2013 and well into the first half of this year, most notably with the February arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera. Over the past three months, federal forces turned their sights to an alliance consisting of the Juarez cartel, Los Zetas and remnants of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a grouping poised to supplant the declining Sinaloa Federation.

On Aug. 9, federal troops captured Enrique Hernandez Garcia, a Beltran Leyva Organization operator and the reported point of contact for the three allied cartels. Hernandez's brother, Francisco (aka "El 2000") is a high-level Beltran Leyva member who played an integral role in providing support to Beltran Leyva Organization remnant groups in Sonora state using gunmen from Los Zetas and the Juarez cartel. Federal troops in northern Sinaloa state also aggressively pursued the Beltran Leyva Organization successor group Los Mazatlecos in the third quarter.

But the alliance's most noteworthy leaders, such as top boss Fausto "El Chapo Isidro" Meza Flores, managed to evade capture until Hector "El H" Beltran Leyva was arrested Oct. 1 in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato state. Hector, the brother of Beltran Leyva Organization founders Alfredo and Arturo Beltran Leyva, was the most senior Beltran Leyva Organization operator to be captured or killed since the December 2009 death of Arturo during a firefight with Mexican marines. Federal forces built on this success by capturing Juarez cartel chief Vicente Carrillo Fuentes on Oct. 9 in Torreon, Coahuila state.

Federal forces also proceeded with operations in Tamaulipas state during the past quarter, where they continued to find substantial success in targeting leaders of the various Gulf cartel-aligned gangs. Farther south, federal troops are actively pursuing the Knights Templar in Michoacan state, though that group is a shadow of what it once was, with Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez its sole remaining top leader.

Each time a high-level leader is captured or killed, the question of succession naturally arises. The consequences of each succession vary widely from group to group. For example, the arrest of Trevino had a low organizational impact on Los Zetas, while massive, violent organizational splits occurred within the Beltran Leyva Organization and the Sinaloa Federation after the January 2008 arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva. Since the arrests of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and Hector Beltran Leyva happened less than a month ago, the extent of the fallout from each remains to be seen. Regardless of how things play out, the typically cohesive structures of Mexican cartels will continue to dissolve, creating a balkanized organized criminal landscape.
The Gulf Cartel Splinters

The Gulf cartel is perhaps the most obvious example of this devolution. Before 2010, the cartel was one of the two most powerful criminal organizations in Mexico, along with the Sinaloa Federation. Either directly or through alliances, it controlled nearly half of Mexico.

In 2010, however, Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel, leaving the latter with just a portion of its former territory. By 2011, the Gulf cartel had split into two competing factions: Los Rojos and Los Metros. The following year, after several leadership losses at the hands of federal troops, the cartel broke down further into at least three factions in Tamaulipas, while a Los Zetas splinter group known as the Velazquez network emerged, rebranding itself as the "Gulf cartel."

The original Gulf cartel has continued to fragment to the extent that numerous, oft-competing groups -- all of them largely referred to as factions of the Gulf cartel -- sometimes can be found operating in the same neighborhood of a given city. Despite this decentralization, under the management of these various factions, organized criminal activity in Tamaulipas state has continued apace.

In the second and third quarters of 2014, two of the factions collapsed into subfactions. The Gulf cartel faction in Tampico fell apart between April and May, sparking a sharp increase in violence in southern Tamaulipas state prior to the start of sweeping security operations in May. Later, after several leadership losses, the Rio Bravo faction -- one of two factions competing for control of Reynosa -- effectively collapsed. Its rival, which operated in towns just west of Reynosa with ties to the Velazquez network, also suffered several leadership losses at the hands of rival groups and the authorities. Now, organized crime-related violence in Tampico and Reynosa resemble conflicts between powerful street gangs more than past conflicts between Mexican transnational criminal organizations.

If government pressure persists, Mexico's other criminal organizations -- even cartels such as Los Zetas that have retained considerable power and a cohesive structure -- will meet the same splintered fate as the Gulf cartel. For these groups, fragmentation is a natural result of prolonged and consistent government pressure. Not all splits will spark new conflicts, however, since newly independent subgroups may decide to cooperate, as has been the case with some Beltran Leyva Organization subgroups and Gulf cartel factions like those in Matamoros and Tampico. Moreover, even though Tamaulipas state now contains numerous distinct criminal groups, the opportunities for illicit profit that gave rise to the Gulf cartel in the first place will remain. The successor groups will continue the criminal operations.
Setbacks for Sinaloa, Opportunities for Rivals

Though the Sinaloa Federation's current woes began to emerge in 2012, the decentralization of the cartel did not become obvious until 2014. The cartel has not devolved into competing crime groups in the same fashion as the Gulf cartel, but Sinaloa's regional crime bosses have increasingly demonstrated their autonomy from top-tier leaders in areas such as Sonora and Baja California states, particularly Tijuana.

As Stratfor predicted in an Aug. 12 Mexico Security Weekly, the breakdown of the Sinaloa Federation has created opportunities for crime bosses under the Juarez-Los Zetas-Beltran Leyva Organization alliance to absorb territories or criminal operations, through either violent takeovers or business deals with individual Sinaloa lieutenants. Such was the case in southern Sonora state in 2012, when Sinaloa lieutenant Sajid Emilio "El Cadete" Quintero Navidad waged war on another Sinaloa lieutenant, Gonzalo "El Macho Prieto" Inzunza Inzunza, before then allying with Trinidad "El Chapo Trini" Olivas Valenzuela, the leader of a Beltran Leyva Organization remnant group.
Fourth-Quarter Forecast

The Juarez-Beltran Leyva Organization-Los Zetas alliance will begin adjusting to the arrests of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and Hector Beltran Leyva in the fourth quarter. Possible reactions include withdrawal from the alliance or further splits within its constituent parts. Rather than substantial adjustments like these during the fourth quarter, however, the members of the alliance are more likely to work to hold together. This could see subgroups such as La Linea of the Juarez cartel and Los Mazatlecos of the Beltran Leyva Organization become the alliance's points of contact for their respective groups. Should the arrests of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and Hector Beltran Leyva diminish the overall capabilities of their respective criminal organizations, Los Zetas may take charge of the general direction of the alliance given that the cartel has, by far, the widest reach of any of the three members.

The likelihood of increased violence resulting from the third-quarter arrests alone is slim. While there is a small chance that these captures will weaken the alliance -- or create that perception among its rivals -- no rival organizations are currently capable of mounting an interregional offensive. The Sinaloa Federation, for example, is too fragmented. Northwest Mexico, Chihuahua state and the Bajio region are the areas most likely to see a deterioration of security related to the shift in alliance dynamics this quarter. But any resulting violence probably will be isolated to areas where regional crime bosses operating under an umbrella group like the Sinaloa Federation will face off with alliance-affiliated bosses for control of relatively small territories. Any such fighting in the fourth quarter is unlikely to draw in Mexico's larger entities.

The Mexican government will continue pursuing criminal leaders throughout the country in the fourth quarter. It has become increasingly apparent that the Pena Nieto administration is intent upon continuing to flatten the structure of organized crime as a whole in Mexico. This means that more, albeit much less powerful, criminal bosses will emerge nationwide. New security concerns can arise with such a trend, since there will be more leaders fighting one another and participating in criminal activities targeting business interests and bystanders. But the crime bosses behind such violence will be far more vulnerable to government pressure than their predecessors, given the relative weakness of the new crop -- though to keep them in check the government will need to help Mexican states strengthen their public safety institutions.

Editor's Note: The full version of our quarterly cartel update is available to clients of our Mexico Security Monitor service.

Read more: Mexico's Drug War: Criminal Groups Splinter as Bosses Fall | Stratfor
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Coulter on Ebola on: October 17, 2014, 07:29:58 AM
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 17, 2014, 07:25:19 AM
I confess myself being surprised that everyone, including POTH is surprised.  I'm not sure how, but I certainly knew of these finds of stuff from the 80s.

Tangentially, I note it is a  bit discouraging to see some on "our side" think this proves "Bush was right" for it does not.  The claim was of an active WMD program and stuff sitting around degrading since the 80s does not do that at all.
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares on: October 17, 2014, 07:21:02 AM
 Against Russia's New Military Strategy, NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares
October 16, 2014 | 0415 Print Text Size
Lithuania Prepares
Members of the U.S. Army 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, unload Stryker Armored Vehicles at the railway station near the Rukla military base in Lithuania, on Oct. 4, 2014. (PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)


Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Oct. 15 that she would push to limit Russian television broadcasts inside the country. The statement came only two days after Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Zukas announced plans to form a new rapid reaction force in Lithuania. These moves highlight Lithuania's mounting concerns over the threat Russia poses to the small but strategic country, particularly in light of Moscow's recent actions in Ukraine.

The Lithuanian president's plan to limit Russian media follows similar trends emerging in other Baltic states. The creation of the rapid reaction force, however, represents a new strategy. Zukas said that Lithuania must be ready for "unconventional attacks by unmarked combatants" -- a thinly veiled reference to Russia's actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Vilnius' plan will not be sufficient to counter potential Russian moves against Lithuania. It is instead an initial response to an evolving security environment in which the conventional Russian military threat to the Baltic states is overshadowed by that of hybrid warfare, which includes the use of proxies, special forces and information campaigns.


In his statement, Zukas said Lithuania's rapid reaction forces would consist of 2,500 troops from Lithuania's 7,000-person military. These troops would be placed on high alert beginning in November and would have the capacity to mobilize within two to 24 hours. Their mission would be to counter unconventional security threats such as attacks by unofficial armed groups, illegal border crossings and the foreign manipulation of national minorities.

Lithuania formulated this rapid reaction plan within the context of the ongoing standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine -- a conflict that has spread throughout the former Soviet periphery. The Baltic states are on the front lines of this broader conflict and are particularly concerned about Russian encroachment into their territory because of their small size and close proximity to the Russian heartland. This is especially concerning because the Baltic states, particularly Lithuania, have been strong supporters of Ukraine's efforts to integrate with the West, putting them squarely in Moscow's sights.

There has already been a great deal of Russian activity inside the Baltic states and the area surrounding them. Russia has built up its forces near St. Petersburg and in the exclave of Kaliningrad, both of which border Baltic states. Moscow has also increased the scale of its military exercises in both areas, while the Russian minorities in several Baltic states have held pro-Russia demonstrations. The rallies are of particular concern because of the size of the Russian minority populations: 24.8 percent of the population in Estonia, 26.9 percent in Latvia, and 5.8 percent in Lithuania. Cross-border incidents between the Baltic states and Russia have also been on the rise in recent months. The Russian coast guard detained a Lithuanian fishing boat, and Russian officials held an Estonian official in custody for allegedly crossing the border on a spying mission, a charge Estonia denied.

The Baltic states see these recent actions in the context of the events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, where Moscow's support for demonstrations eventually led to the deployment of Russian military and unofficial militant forces. This has given way to concerns that the Baltics could be the next target for hybrid warfare. As NATO members protected by the Article 5 collective defense clause, the Baltics are somewhat insulated from a Russian conventional military threat. The classification of a threat as subject to Article 5, however, requires a unanimous NATO council vote. This leaves effective defense of the Baltics subject to Western Europe's political will to intervene. A rapid NATO response would be even more doubtful in the case of hybrid or asymmetrical warfare. The Baltic states have called for a permanent NATO military presence within their territory. Instead, NATO and the United States have only stepped up troop rotations for joint exercises and military training to a semi-permanent basis.

Lithuania's decision to organize its own rapid reaction force is an effort to build the capacity to preemptively counter or contain Russian actions and reassure the public that the government is taking concrete action. Given Russia's larger security forces and broader financial resources, however, Lithuania's new force is unlikely to fully neutralize the threat. Maintaining more than a third of Lithuania's forces at that level of readiness will require substantial resources, raising questions about the initiative's long-term sustainability. At best, the plan supplements NATO's efforts, which include launching the bloc's own rapid reaction forces that can be deployed to the Baltics, Poland or Romania. Lithuania will continue to call for a greater U.S. and NATO commitment to regional security.

For its part, Russia will likely continue to use the same methods of hybrid warfare it implemented in Ukraine to project power regionally. Lithuania's creation of a rapid reaction force is simply an acknowledgement of this reality and the need to confront it in a more flexible and creative manner.

Read more: Against Russia's New Military Strategy, NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares | Stratfor

226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Tiny Minority within Islam on: October 16, 2014, 05:19:07 PM
Some of the numbers seem a bit glib, but overall the gist of this seems on target:
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al-Houthi Rebles seize strategic port on: October 16, 2014, 03:55:30 PM
 Yemen's al-Houthi Rebels Seize a Strategic Port


October 16, 2014 | 0430
Armed supporters of the al-Houthi movement gather against al Qaeda militants on Aug. 17. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)


Yemen's Zaidi al-Houthi rebels have gained control of the strategic Red Sea port city of al-Hudaydah, further strengthening their negotiating position in back-channel talks with the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi. Seizing Yemen's second-largest port is a dramatic move intended to pressure Sanaa into making concessions on key points of disagreement between the government and the rebels. The move also signals that the al-Houthis still retain key levers with which to threaten Hadi's economic interests -- and legitimacy -- if the government continues to stall in reaching a political settlement.

It is likely that the fall of al-Hudaydah and the threat of further rebel aggression will force Hadi to accommodate al-Houthi demands. If he fails to do so, the rebels could respond with attempts to expand their territory or disrupt the country's vital oil industry.


A number of local Yemeni news outlets reported Oct. 14 that several thousand al-Houthi militants had rapidly -- and facing seemingly little resistance -- established control over a majority of al-Hudaydah, Yemen's fourth-largest city. The al-Houthis and their allies now control (or are in the process of gaining control of) al-Hudaydah's port complex and international airport, as well as several administrative buildings, a local armory and a military base. The rebels have also established checkpoints and have begun conducting armed patrols throughout most of the city. Reports conflict as to whether al-Hudaydah Gov. Sakhr al-Wajeeh -- a former finance minister with reported links to Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood branch, the al-Islah party -- has submitted his resignation or is mediating between locals and al-Houthi commanders. Initial indications show that local security forces were ordered to stand down as the al-Houthis entered the city. Rumors that elements of Yemen's 10th Brigade, made up of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's elite Republican Guard units, may have facilitated the takeover once again raise questions about Saleh's potential involvement in the conflict.
The Importance of al-Hudaydah

The port city of al-Hudaydah, once labeled by the World Bank as the "agro-industrial capital of Yemen," is a central node for Yemen's non-oil economy and handles the bulk of the country's total cargo imports. The city is an important transportation hub both domestically, with major highways running north and south along the coast and east to Sanaa, and internationally, with Red Sea shipping lanes. Al-Hudaydah is also surrounded by Yemen's most important agricultural region, the Tihama plain. Notably, reports indicate that the port city has long served as a critical smuggling hub for al-Islah leaders, particularly former Brig. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. The al-Houthis have long perceived al-Islah, a party with Sunni tribal, Islamist and Salafist links, as their principal rival in northern Yemen.

Al-Hudaydah, Yemen
Click to Enlarge

Perhaps more important is the city's location a mere 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the Ras Isa floating terminal, which exports oil produced in the vast Marib fields via the 435-kilometer Marib-Ras Isa pipeline. The pipeline transports between 70,000 and 110,000 barrels per day of the nation's average production of 125,000 barrels per day. Ras Isa and the nearby Saleef port complex have not yet fallen under al-Houthi control, but the threat of additional disruptions to an already troubled oil sector is certainly disconcerting for Yemeni leaders. With the country's oil revenues fluctuating wildly and the central bank severely strapped for cash, the al-Houthi occupation of such a critical economic hub would pose a serious threat to the government. It would also present an opportunity for the al-Houthis, who have long sought to control a major Red Sea port through which they could generate revenues and gain access to global transportation lanes.
Rebels' Motives and Next Steps

The al-Houthis are well aware of the panic their occupation of al-Hudaydah will cause in Sanaa, and they are likely expecting the move to spur progress in their negotiations with Hadi, as the al-Houthi occupation of Sanaa did. But since the Sept. 21 announcement of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the capital, Hadi has been slow to meet the demands of al-Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. These demands include greater political representation, a larger share of the national wealth, restructuring proposed federalization boundaries and potentially incorporating Zaidi militants into state security forces. While the al-Houthis have managed to successfully install a neutral prime minister (over Hadi's objections), the decision took weeks of behind-the-scenes political jockeying.

As al-Houthi leaders look toward the next step in the movement's political re-emergence -- the formation of a new Cabinet in Sanaa -- the militants will seek to gain control of several ministries and access powerful deputy positions within key security, financial and energy posts. Doing so will enable the al-Houthis to manage the government from behind the scenes without being seen as the face of the new administration -- a role not unlike that of Lebanon's Hezbollah or Iraq's influential Shiite militias.

Yemen's Looming Water Crisis
Click to Enlarge

To achieve this goal, al-Houthi understands that he will need to strike at or threaten the regime's vulnerable points: the ports along the western coast and the oil fields in the country's center. By imposing a new military reality on the ground, the al-Houthi militants are hoping to avoid the deadlock they encountered with the prime ministerial selection process. In fact, there are rumors the group is preparing for a new offensive across the northwestern border of Marib province, home to a large share of Yemen's oil reserves. Meanwhile, militias aligned with the al-Houthis have begun to expand their security presence south of Sanaa in the mountainous Dhamar province, which lies at the southernmost tip of traditional Zaidi territory, occupying the provincial capital -- again reportedly with the help of Saleh-linked elements -- and forcing the governor to resign. Early reports also indicate that dozens of al-Houthi fighters seized the nearby city of Ibb on Oct. 15 and have begun advancing tentatively on Bayda and Taiz provinces.
Challenges Ahead

These strategies to gain leverage will increasingly draw the militants out of their traditional mountainous strongholds and into Sunni-majority territories. For example, the western coastline, though sparsely populated, is home to a Sunni Arab majority. The city of al-Hudaydah itself is overwhelmingly Sunni, and there are already reports of local resistance forming under the Tahami Movement, a Sunni organization based along Yemen's northwestern coast. Looking elsewhere, the al-Houthis risk encroaching on the heartland of the country's southern separatist movement by extending too far south of Dhamar province, into predominantly Sunni territory with a history of activity by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Likewise, if the al-Houthi militants attempt to seize the oil fields in eastern Marib province in Yemen's central interior, they would have to cross arid land that is home to some of Yemen's most notoriously territorial and fiercely autonomous Sunni tribes and an AQAP stronghold. In fact, Oct. 14 reports claim that tribesmen in Marib province have begun welcoming AQAP fighters from the nearby Hadramawt, Shabwa and Abyan provinces, perhaps seeking to bolster their defenses against a potential al-Houthi incursion. The risks of attacking these alternative targets likely contributed to al-Houthi's ultimate decision to target the coastline.

The Sectarian Divide in Northern Yemen
Click to Enlarge

Al-Houthi militants also face the danger of overextending their manpower and resources by expanding too far, too fast. The rebels are currently engaged in heavy fighting against al-Islah supporters and tribesmen in the northern al-Jawf province while simultaneously occupying Sanaa, a city of nearly 2 million people. Expanding too far beyond their current territory could also open up a new front against heavier concentrations of state military forces. Marib province alone is home to some three battalions -- an organized force larger than the force the militants encountered on the road to Sanaa. Meanwhile, AQAP has announced that it will begin targeting the Zaidi rebels more regularly; an Oct. 9 suicide bombing targeted an al-Houthi checkpoint in the capital and left more than 50 dead.

These challenges will likely constrain al-Houthi territorial ambitions for the time being, as their leaders focus on political negotiations and capitalize on the newfound leverage gained by the occupation of al-Hudaydah. Hadi cannot afford to let the Ras Isa export terminal, one of his country's most important economic lifelines, fall to the rebels. The president is also aware that the longer his government appears to be held hostage by the northern Zaidis, the further his credibility and legitimacy will decline and the more emboldened regional entities will become. The Southern Secessionist Movement already held demonstrations in Aden on Oct. 14, the 51st anniversary of southern Yemen's insurgency against British occupation. The demonstrations took place amid rumors that exiled southern leaders are beginning to return to the country to launch a new bid for independence, as well as reports of the secessionists demanding that all oil and natural gas firms halt exports immediately until they agree to operate under southern jurisdiction.

Hadi is likely to cave in the face of such overwhelming pressure, but the al-Houthis will be ready to respond should he choose to stand firm in negotiations. If the need arises, al-Houthi will likely choose to pursue the less risky option of asserting control south of the capital near Dhamar province and possibly in the crucial coastal port cities of Ras Isa and Saleef. The al-Houthis' ability to solidify their territorial control highlights their re-emergence in northern Yemen as a regional power broker and underscores Sanaa's rapidly declining ability to maintain its authority in the country's hinterlands.

228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muffie the Mayor goes after Houston Church's Free Speech on: October 16, 2014, 02:23:15 PM
Houston Gay Mafia Goes After Pastors

In a move eerily similar to that of fascist regimes, the city of Houston demanded that pastors hand over their sermons to the city for a review of teachings that might speak out against homosexuality or transgenderism. After an outcry, the city is partially backing off, but make no mistake: This is a shot across the bow for any who oppose the homosexual agenda.

Last year, Houston voters elected the city’s first openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. It wasn’t long before the city passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which granted "equal rights" (read: preferred status as those with whom no one may disagree) to individuals with gender disorientation pathology. Under the ordinance, men can use ladies’ restrooms, ladies can use men’s restrooms, and, in short, anything goes -- except orthodox Christianity. Texans don’t take too well to folks messing with their manhood, and it wasn’t long before a petition drive opposing the ordinance drew more than 50,000 signatures -- more than double the number needed to get the issue on the ballot.

Imagine the shock when the mayor and city attorney announced the petition was invalid due to "irregularities." Specifically, City Attorney David Feldman announced, “With respect to the referendum petition filed to repeal the ‘HERO’ ordinance, there are simply too many documents with irregularities and problems to overlook. The petition is simply invalid. There is no other conclusion.” Actually, there is another conclusion -- at least 50,000 Houston residents oppose HERO. Imagine that. But in a suspension of disbelief, the city expects folks to believe that, of 50,000 signatures, more than 32,000 were invalid. Sure, and we have oceanfront property in Dallas to sell them.

In response, opponents of the ordinance filed a lawsuit against the city. Houston now has a coalition of about 400 area churches that oppose the new ordinance, as they actually believe that X and Y chromosomes were designed for a reason. (It's called science, which the Left supposedly champions.) The churches were not party to the lawsuit, but it just so happens that some of the 50,000 signatures were reportedly gathered at churches (which, incidentally, is fully legal).

In retribution, the city claimed the churches' sermons were fair game as a political target because petition signatures were gathered inside a church. Several pastors were delivered a subpoena demanding they yield “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession” as well as “all communications with members of your congregations” about HERO and the petition drive.

Seems that the tolerant crowd Mayor Parker runs with isn’t so tolerant after all. Unable to abide the idea that Christian pastors may actually be preaching what the Bible says, she tried to intimidate them. Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the pastors, noted, “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

Now, the city appears to be backing off -- somewhat. "Mayor Parker agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastor’s sermons,” according to Janice Evans, chief policy officer for the City of Houston. “The city will move to narrow the scope [of the subpoenas] during an upcoming court hearing." As if that will smooth things over.

Mayor Parker said, "There’s no question the wording was overly broad. But I also think there was some misinterpretation on the other side.” In other words, they're still going after HERO opponents -- after they adjust the wording a bit.

And then she had the temerity to complain about being "vilified coast to coast."

Pastor Dave Welch, one of the subpoenaed pastors, said, "What they did by issuing these subpoenas was to punish any pastor in the city of Houston who participated in gathering signatures against the HERO ordinance." He added that even the revised subpoenas are clearly “an effort to both punish and intimidate those who dared to step-up and oppose this city council.”

It’s no secret that across the nation, efforts are multiplying to silence Christians, censor pastors and eliminate discourse in opposition to the homosexual agenda. The Houston Council’s actions are not the first attempt but are among the most brazen. The Council, however, has no idea what -- or whom -- it’s up against. Religious Liberty is the bedrock of our Republic, and government review of sermons has no place in the Land of the Free. Parker and her cohorts may think they messed only with a few Texas pastors, but when it comes to defending our God-given and constitutionally protected rights, she messed with all of us.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FP: Gen. Heftar and Egypt working together against AQ in Benghazi on: October 16, 2014, 08:22:51 AM

Libyan army troops aligned with former General Khalifa Heftar have intensified a ground assault and airstrikes against a coalition of Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi. The offensive has come a day after Heftar vowed to "liberate" Benghazi in a televised address following an attack by militants from Ansar al-Sharia on one of the last army bases controlled by government forces in the city. The Associated Press reported two Egyptian officials said Egyptian warplanes were attacking Islamist militias in Libya, though Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied the report. Egypt has pledged to train Libyan soldiers, and in Heftar's address Tuesday, he thanked countries that had helped in his fight against what he referred to as "terrorism."

Egotistically I note that this was something I discussed in my proffered strategy.
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FP: on: October 16, 2014, 08:20:56 AM


U.S.-led airstrikes and Kurdish forces are continuing to push back Islamic State militants from the predominantly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), near the border with Turkey. As of Wednesday, coalition forces had conducted over 100 strikes around Kobani, which the Pentagon reported had killed several hundred Islamic State fighters. A Kurdish official reported militants are retreating from parts of the town, though U.S. military officials cautioned Kobani could still fall to the Islamic State group. Additionally, the retired general leading the coalition, General John Allen, noted Islamic State militants have made "substantial gains" in Iraq's western Anbar province, despite U.S.-led airstrikes. He mentioned, however, that coalition forces had pushed militants back in other areas of Iraq.

•   Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is expected to nominate a candidate from the Iranian-backed Shiite militia the Badr Corps as interior minister.  (Well, that will sure help persuade Sunnis to work with the Govt. of Baghdad)
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: October 16, 2014, 08:16:58 AM
I remember hearing of this many years ago.  This is no surprise to me.

My understanding is this:

The chem weapons were all pre-Gulf War, and were all seriously degraded.  A danger to those handling them certainly, but not likely to function as weapons.  As pre-Gulf War, their degraded presence, in effect, underlined that the active program we asserted was devoid of proof after our invasion.

The embarrassment of the West's role, including a US role, in their manufacture, would have been VERY bad in the context of our used of WMD as a justification in front of the UN.

232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did any of us see this coming? on: October 15, 2014, 09:05:20 PM

Risk of Deflation Feeds Global Fears
Falling Commodities Prices Pressures Central Banks
By Jon Hilsenrath and Brian Blackstone
Oct. 15, 2014 8:26 p.m. ET

Behind the spate of market turmoil lurks a worry that top policy makers thought they had beaten back a few years ago: the specter of deflation.

A general fall in consumer prices emerged as a big concern after the 2008 financial crisis because it summoned memories of deep and lingering downturns like the Great Depression and two decades of lost growth in Japan. The world’s central banks in recent years have used a variety of easy-money policies to fight its debilitating effects.

Now, fresh signs of slow global economic growth, falling commodities prices, sagging stock markets and declining bond yields suggest the deflation risk hasn’t gone away, particularly in the often-frenetic eyes of investors. These emerging threats come as the Federal Reserve is on track this month to end a bond-buying program that has been one of the main tools in its fight against falling prices.

The deflation concern is particularly pronounced in Europe and Japan, two economies where policy makers are struggling to come up with solutions to counter especially slow economic growth.

However, recent declines in commodities prices suggest that downward pressure on inflation—if not all-out deflation—could become a wider-ranging phenomenon, and one with some mixed implications for economies like the U.S. and emerging markets.

Investor worries about the global economy appeared to gather force Wednesday. European stock markets sagged; the Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 3.2% to its lowest level since last December. U.S. stocks pared steep losses, but still finished down for the fifth straight day; after falling more than 450 points at one point, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.45, or 1.1%, to 16141.74.

Meantime, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 2.091%, their lowest level since June 2013, and are down nearly a percentage point from the beginning of the year. Bond yields fell to new lows in Germany, too. Crude-oil prices dropped further; crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to $81.78 a barrel, the lowest level since June 2012.

The deflation concerns are particularly acute in Europe, where annual inflation in the 18 nations that use the euro was 0.3% last month, a five-year low that is far below the European Central Bank’s target of just under 2%.

With inflation so low, it wouldn’t take much of a shock—such as weakness in Germany’s economy or geopolitical tensions in nearby Ukraine—to tip the whole region into a deflationary downturn. Some eurozone countries, such as Italy, have already tipped into deflation. Even countries outside the currency bloc are feeling the pain. Sweden’s statistics agency said Tuesday that consumer prices fell 0.4% in annual terms last month after a 0.2% fall in August, well below its central bank’s 2% target.

The risk of deflation in Europe is “a real worry,” Harvard University professor and former Federal Reserve governor Jeremy Stein said in an interview. “The right prescription [for policy makers] is to be aggressive.”

ECB President Mario Draghi acted against deflation risks in June and September, pushing the central bank to slash interest rates to record lows each time—including a negative rate on bank deposits at the ECB—and unveiling new bank-lending and asset-purchase plans for asset-backed securities and covered bonds.

But there is little consensus for more-dramatic measures—the kind of monetary stimulus the Fed, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan have deployed—namely large-scale purchases of government bonds to raise the money supply.

The head of Germany’s central bank, Jens Weidmann, has signaled his opposition to such bond buying, and other members of the ECB’s governing council appear sympathetic to his argument that with government and corporate borrowing costs already superlow, the policy wouldn’t even do much good.

“I am very much for a steady-hand approach, and I think this is what we are doing,” Austria’s central bank governor, Ewald Nowotny, said in an interview last week.

Hard fiscal problems are part of Europe’s problem. Last week, Standard & Poor’s stripped Finland of its triple-A credit rating and downgraded France’s outlook. On Tuesday, Fitch put France on review for a possible downgrade.

Struggling economies such as France and Italy face a tough choice: Take additional austerity measures to shrink budget deficits, inflicting more pain on their economies, or attempt to flaunt the EU’s budget rules calling for low deficits, which could damage their credibility in Europe.

ECB chief Mario Draghi, shown in Washington this past weekend, faces opposition to further measures to combat deflation in the eurozone.R Reuters

The resistance Mr. Draghi faces has shaken the faith of some investors that policy makers in Europe will address the threat.

“Market valuations, especially for rich countries, have been well above what was warranted by fundamentals. What kept them up there was a belief that central banks were markets’ best friends,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz Group. “Most people now recognize that the ability of central banks to address what ails the global economy is weaker than they believed.”

Meanwhile, Japan had recently begun to stir sustained growth, which helped to push its inflation rate above 1%, after years of on-again, off-again deflation. But inflation decelerated again in recent months as the economy softened after an April sales-tax increase meant to restrain mounting government debt. Many private economists forecast a slip back below 1% this year.

Japanese officials must now decide whether to follow through on another planned sales-tax increase that could dent growth even more. And the Bank of Japan is weighing whether it needs to provide even more stimulus. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda launched new asset purchase programs last year to reverse two decades of deflation and has pledged to persist until he reaches the 2% target.

Japan’s struggles to exit deflation, even with massive central-bank stimulus, illustrate just how difficult it is for an economy to pull out of the trap, once it has settled in.

A weak global outlook “has to be a worry for every economy,” Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last week.

The U.S. confronts much different circumstances than Europe and Japan. U.S. inflation had been rising toward the Fed’s 2% objective earlier this year but now faces a downward tug amid the weakening global growth and a strengthening U.S. dollar. The Labor Department reported Wednesday that producer prices in the U.S. fell in September. Sharp drops in commodities prices this month could add to downward pressure.

Yet falling commodities prices have silver linings. For one, the decline is being driven in part by a U.S. energy production boom—not just sagging global demand for goods. Moreover, falling gasoline prices are a boon to U.S. consumers: One rule of thumb is that every one-cent drop in the price of gasoline amounts to a $1 billion boost to U.S. household incomes, and gasoline prices have dropped by 13 to 17 cents from a year ago, according to the automobile group AAA.

“All else equal, when energy gets cheaper, we benefit,” Mr. Stein said.

Meanwhile, the Fed is on track this month to end its bond-buying stimulus program launched in September 2012. And Fed officials have largely stuck to their line that they expected to start raising short-term interest rates by the middle of 2015. Still, traders in futures markets have been pushing up the prices of contracts tied to the Fed’s benchmark interest rate—a sign they see diminishing odds that the Fed will follow through on that plan.

Harvard’s Mr. Stein said he didn’t think the U.S. central bank needed to alter its thinking much in light of recent developments. “I wouldn’t dramatically revise my expectations,” he said. “The balance of the job-market news in the U.S. has been very positive.”

A Commerce Department report Wednesday showed U.S. retail sales dropped in September, but many economists are sticking to estimates that the U.S. economy expanded at a rate in excess of 3% in the third quarter, potentially the fourth time in the past five quarters it exceeded 3%. Moreover job growth has been stronger than Fed officials expected.

Write to Jon Hilsenrath at and Brian Blackstone at
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Ebola on: October 15, 2014, 09:02:23 PM
Here ya go: 

(For the record, I'm not sure I agree 100%, but I offer it here for conversation)

How the U.S. Made the Ebola Crisis Worse
The total number of Liberian doctors in America is about two-thirds the total now working in their homeland.
E. Fuller Torrey
Oct. 14, 2014 7:19 p.m. ET

Amid discussions of quarantines, lockdowns and doomsday death scenarios about Ebola, little has been said about the exodus of Africa’s health-care professionals and how it has contributed to the outbreak. For 50 years, the U.S. and other Western nations have admitted health professionals—especially doctors and nurses—from poor countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, three nations at the heart of the Ebola epidemic.

The loss of these men and women is now reflected in reports about severe medical-manpower shortages in these countries, an absence of local medical leadership so critical for responding to the crisis, and a collapse or near-collapse of their health-care systems.

Although Africa bears 24% of the global disease burden, it is home to just 3% of the world’s health workforce. A 2010 World Health Organization assessment of doctors, nurses and midwives per population listed Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in the bottom nine nations in the world in medical manpower.

In Liberia, a nation of four million people, the number of Ebola cases is said to be doubling every 15-20 days. Based on news reports, I’ve estimated that there were about 120 Liberian physicians in the country prior to the outbreak.

According to an American Medical Association database, in 2010 there were 56 Liberian-trained physicians practicing in the U.S. This number does not include other Liberian physicians who emigrated to this country, were unable to pass state licensing exams, and are employed as technicians, administrators, or in other jobs. Older studies suggest that the number failing such exams is about half of those licensed.

Thus the total number of Liberian physicians in the U.S. is probably about two-thirds the number in Liberia. In addition, Liberian-trained physicians live in Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

The Liberian situation is not exceptional. Altogether in 2010 the U.S. had 265,851 licensed physicians trained in other countries, constituting 32% of our physician workforce, according to the AMA. Among these, 128,729 came from countries categorized by the World Bank as being from low- or lower-middle income countries. These physicians tend to work disproportionately in rural and inner-city jobs less favored by American medical graduates. West Virginia, for example, has the highest proportion of foreign-trained physicians from poorer countries to U.S.-trained physicians.

The U.S. has always welcomed health professionals from other countries. However in 1965, responding to a perceived shortage of physicians for the growing U.S. population, Congress passed landmark immigration legislation giving preference to health professionals. Subsequent legislation in 1968, 1970 and 1994 further opened the door, especially for physicians from poorer countries. The percentage of foreign-trained physicians has steadily increased from 10% of the workforce in 1965 to its current 32%.

Many objections to this policy have been raised over the years. In 1967 Walter Mondale, then a senator from Minnesota, called it a disgrace. It was “inexcusable,” he wrote in the Saturday Review, that the U.S. should “need doctors from countries where thousands die daily of disease to relieve our shortage of medical manpower.”

A 1974 report on the “Brain Drain” for the House Foreign Affairs Committee noted that the current policy was widening the gap between rich and poor nations, and warned that the policy “has a great potential for mischief in the Nation’s future relations with the LDC [less developed countries].”

Despite such complaints, U.S. policy has continued to encourage the immigration of physicians and other health workers from poorer countries. “There’s nothing wrong with a foreign-trained doctor,” Casper Weinberger, then secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, said on TV in 1973. “Of course we’re using a lot of them, and will use a lot more.”

The consequences of this policy may be more than “mischief.” Ebola may be merely the first of many prices to be paid for our long-standing but shortsighted health manpower policy. Surely the wealthiest country in the world should be able to produce sufficient health workers for its own needs and not take them from the poorest countries.

Dr. Torrey is associate director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and author of “American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System” (Oxford, 2013).
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / From Qatar to the Gaza Strip on: October 15, 2014, 08:24:29 PM
second post

Guest Column: The Road from Qatar to the Gaza Strip
by Reuven Berko
Special to IPT News
October 15, 2014

 In a recent speech, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor mentioned the central role of Qatar in supporting international terrorist organizations. Money flowing from Qatar to Hamas, for example, paid for the terrorist attack tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip under the security fence into Israeli territory, and for the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets in both the distant and recent past. In response, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf rushed to Qatar's defense, claiming it had an important, positive role in finding a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Qatar's funding for Islamist terrorist organizations all over the world is an open secret known to every global intelligence agency, including the CIA. It was exposed by Wikileaks, which clearly showed that funds from Qatar were transferred to al-Qaida. Qatar also funds the terrorist movements opposing the Assad regime in Syria, such as the Al-Nusra Front, encourages anti-Egyptian terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula and within Egypt itself, and is involved in Islamic terrorism in Africa and other locations. It accompanies its involvement in terrorism targeting Israel and Egypt (through the Muslim Brotherhood) with vicious and inflammatory propaganda on its Al-Jazeera TV channel.

Qatar also spends millions of dollars supporting the Islamic Movement in Israel, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. The Islamic Movement is responsible for ongoing acts of provocation on the Temple Mount and in Judea and Samaria, and incites the entire Islamic world against Israel, claiming that the Jews are trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with the Jewish Temple. The incitement continued even as the Islamic Movement's sister movement, Hamas, fired rockets at Jerusalem and endangered both the mosques on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem's sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As Qatar's representative, the Islamic Movement, which has not yet been outlawed in Israel, contributed to Hamas what it could during Operation Protective Edge by instigating riots, blocking roads and seeking to foment a third intifada which, according to the plan, would be joined by Israeli Arabs to augment the deaths of thousands of Israelis killed by rockets and the mass murders through the attack tunnels planned for the eve of the Jewish New Year.

In his recent UN speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebutted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' accusations of Israeli "genocide" of the Palestinian people. He reminded his audience of Hamas' use of Gazan civilians as human shields and of the rockets fired to attack specifically civilian Israeli targets. Unfortunately, he did not mention the Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all the Jews. The fact that Abbas now heads a national consensus government in which Hamas is a full partner commits him to the slaughter of the Jewish people – a true genocide – and it is to the disgrace of the international community that such an individual was permitted to address the UN instead of being tried for war crimes.

In fact, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are clearly stated in the Hamas charter, which defines Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's global Islamic movement. One of its objectives is to fight "infidel Christian imperialism" and its Zionist emissaries in Israel in order to impose the Sharia, Islamic religious law, on the world. According to the charter's paragraph 7, Hamas' intention is to slaughter every Jew, as ordered by Muhammad and those who accept his legacy. That is the basis for the threat issued by ISIS "Caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that under his leadership, Islam will "drown America in blood."

Throughout its history, Hamas, like ISIS, has been committed to the concept of the global caliphate, which it plans to help construct by creating its own Islamic emirate on the ruins of the State of Israel. Since its founding, Hamas has attacked Israel and murdered thousands of its citizens exactly as ISIS has attacked and murdered "infidels." They share the same slogans, with "There is no god but Allah" and "Allah, Prophet Muhammad" inscribed on their flags and headbands. Hamas terrorists have blown themselves up in Israel's coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, buses, malls and markets, wherever there are large concentrations of civilians. The way Hamas executed suspected collaborators during the final days of Operation Protective Edge bore the hallmarks of the al-Qaida execution of Daniel Pearl and the ISIS beheading of James Foley and others.

In the decades during which Hamas has carried out a continual series of deadly terrorist attacks against Israel, wearing the same "Allah, Prophet, Muhammad" headbands as ISIS terrorists, the international community rarely voices its support for Israel, or takes into account that by defending itself Israel also defends the West, which has failed to understand that "political Islam" inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood was setting up shop in the free world's backyard and that the ticking bomb was set to go off sooner than expected. The West has not clearly condemned Qatar for openly supporting Hamas and its terrorist activities against Israel or demanded that it stop.
While Israel responded to Hamas' rocket attacks on civilian targets to keep thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Israeli civilians from being killed, the international community demanded "proportionality." That requirement kept Israel from responding as it should have and encouraged Hamas to fire ever more rockets at "military targets" such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When Israel built its security fence to keep Hamas suicide bombers from infiltrating into Israeli territory to blow themselves up in crowds of civilians, the international community opposed it, rushed to embrace the Palestinians' vocabulary of "racism" and "apartheid," and willingly played into the hands of Hamas and Abbas. This reaction occurred although Israel is the only truly democratic country in the Middle East, where Jews and Arabs can live in peace without "apartheid."

Today President Obama says he "underestimated" the threat posed by ISIS, while Israel has been warning the world of extremist military Islam for at least a decade, as Netanyahu warned the world of a nuclear Iran in his UN speech.

The international community has been curiously silent about the genuine apartheid in the Arab states neighboring Israel. There, descendants of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees, by now in their fourth generation, still live in refugee camps, do not have citizenship, and are excluded from jobs and social benefits. Israel, however, absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, many of them destitute, who fled Europe and were expelled from the Arab countries when the state was founded, and were given citizenship and enjoy full rights, as do the Arabs who remained in Israel after the War of Independence.

Israel, which has nothing against the Palestinian people, would like to see the Gaza Strip rebuilt for both humanitarian reasons and to give Hamas something to lose. Radical Islamic elements around the globe, however, including Hamas, ISIS, al-Qaida, the Al-Nusra Front and Hizballah, all financed by Qatar, do not want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved. They all have the same global agenda, based on fueling the conflict to unite Islam around it, under their leadership.

Therefore, Qatar continues to support global Islamic terrorism. On Sept. 13, Qatar paid the Al-Nusra Front a ransom of $20 million to free abducted UN soldiers from Fiji. The world praised Qatar for its philanthropy, but in effect, it was a brilliant act of manipulation and fraud, both filling the Al-Nusra Front's coffers and representing itself as the Fijians' savior. Qatar is using the same underhanded trick in the Gaza Strip. After sending Hamas millions of dollars to fund its anti-Israeli terrorist industry, it pledged $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip during last weekend's conference in Cairo.

While the world hopes Operation Protective Edge was the last round of Palestinian-Israeli violence, senior Hamas figures reiterate their position of gearing up to fight Israel again. Not one Hamas leader is willing to agree to a full merger with the Palestinian Authority to establish a genuine unified Palestinian leadership. Hamas rejects even the idea of disarming or demilitarization as part of an agreement to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the peace process. Unfortunately, no one has suggested it as a pre- condition for any U.S. dollars that will be contributed to the reconstruction of Gaza.

All that is left now is to hope that the billions of dollars poured into the Gaza Strip for its rebuilding will be accompanied by the disarmament of Hamas and the establishment of an honest mechanism for overseeing the money and materials Egypt and Israel allow into the Gaza Strip. It is imperative that they not be diverted to rebuild Hamas' terrorist infrastructure and tunnels, or to bribe UNRWA officials to look the other way, as has happened so often in the past. There is every indication that only Hamas and Qatar know whether there is anything to justify that hope.

Dr. Reuven Berko has a Ph.D. in Middle East studies, is a commentator on Israeli Arabic TV programs, writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and is considered one of Israel's top experts on Arab affairs.
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Ebola on: October 15, 2014, 02:52:18 PM
236  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Evil on: October 15, 2014, 02:48:21 PM
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Qatar and Brookings Institute on: October 15, 2014, 02:22:15 PM
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Convention? on: October 15, 2014, 02:16:37 PM
Constitutional Convention? Caveat Emptor
The Law of Unintended Consequences
By Mark Alexander • October 15, 2014   
"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all." --George Washington (1796)

The "law of unintended consequences" is an idiomatic admonition regarding the manipulation of complex systems. The notion of unintentional consequence has its origin with 18th-century political economist Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment.

In the present, it is used more in rebuttal to the hubristic notion that humans are so brilliant and possess sufficient discernment about complex systems that we can predict outcomes with great accuracy. It is similar to Murphy's Law -- "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" -- except it is not asserting the absolute.

20th-century sociologist Robert Merton noted three primary factors contributing to unanticipated consequences: First, incomplete analysis because it is impossible to anticipate all variables; second, errors in analysis of what is known about the problem; third, immediate interests overriding long-term interests.

Our nation is besieged by unintended consequences. Most notably, the 2008 election of a charismatic "community organizer" peddling a "hope and change" mantra. It is now painfully clear, after the re-election of Barack Obama, that his mantra has resulted in a plague of pessimism and an atrocious fundamental transformation of America.
But not all unanticipated consequences are bad.

Shortly after Obama's first election, a grassroots groundswell of concern over our government's abject disregard for the Constitution emerged. That concern galvanized in the Tea Party Movement, a broad coalition of Americans from all walks of life with a common goal of restoring Constitutional Rule of Law and the Essential Liberty enshrined therein.

Fortunately, this movement is more ideological than political. While the media labels some constitutional constructionists as "Tea Party candidates," the underlying movement defies traditional political party labels -- and this constitutional coalition is alive and well.

Beyond efforts to restore the plain language authority of our Constitution by way of the ballot box, several compelling arguments for constitutional amendments have emerged in an effort to circumvent restoration by way of the bullet box.

There are two proscriptions for amending our Constitution. These are specified in Article V as ratified.

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

In other words, to amend our Constitution, two-thirds of the House and Senate must adopt an amendment or two-thirds of state legislatures (34) must request Congress convene an Article V Convention to consider an amendment. Then, that amendment must be affirmed by either three-fourths (38) of state legislatures or state conventions.

Since our Constitution was ratified and became operational on March 4, 1789, there have been approximately 11,600 amendment proposals, of which 33 were adopted by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Of those, 26 amendments were ratified by state legislatures and one, the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment (prohibition on alcohol), was ratified by state conventions.

The most significant call on Congress to convene an Article V Convention in recent history was Ronald Reagan's proposal for a Balanced Budget Amendment (as currently required by every state constitution but Vermont). On March 26, 2014, Michigan's legislature became the 22nd applying to Congress for an Article V convention seeking a Balanced Budget Amendment.

What makes the Michigan request notable is that there already are 12 applications from other states for conventions to consider a Balanced Budget Amendment. All were rescinded -- most because it was thought that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act negated the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Of course, Congress created as many bypasses around Gramm-Rudman as they have around the Constitution.

But there is a debate as to whether a state may rescind its Article V application. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has called on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to seek a legal opinion on whether that threshold has been met: "With the decision by Michigan lawmakers, it is important that the House -- and those of us who support a Balanced Budget Amendment -- determine whether the necessary number of states have acted and what the appropriate role of Congress should be in this case."

Indeed, that answer is being sought by quite a few constitutional scholars who are advocates of Article V Conventions, including Lawrence Lessig, Sanford Levinson, Larry Sabato, Jonathan Turley and Mark Levin.

Levin, who distributes our Essential Liberty Guides at conservative conferences, has generated substantial interest and support for 11 amendments he outlined in his book, "The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic." He is calling for a national dialogue on these amendments, with the ultimate objective of stopping unmitigated and unlawful violations of our Constitution by the central government.


Conservative political analyst George Will is an advocate of another measure, The Compact for America, a Goldwater Institute initiative which, according to Will, "would use the Constitution’s Article V to move the nation back toward the limited government the Constitution’s Framers thought their document guaranteed."

The Compact is a renewed federal budget containment measure, and as Will concludes, "In the 85th and final of the Federalist Papers written to persuade Americans wary of centralized power to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton said: 'We may safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.' States would be the prime movers of, and would be substantially empowered by, the institute’s amendment-by-compact plan."
While we await a legal determination from Boehner on the question of whether the 34-state threshold for an Article V Convention has been met, there are two important considerations about which approach should be taken to enact amendments.

First, it is not clear whether the scope of amendments to be considered by a convention, once convened, can be limited. Could those advocating statist tyranny commandeer a convention?

Recall, if you will, that on February 21, 1787, when the Congress of the Confederation endorsed a measure to revise the Articles of Confederation, it summoned state delegates "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation" in ways that, when approved by Congress and the states, would "render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union." Indeed, Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation set forth that it was "perpetual" until any alteration was "agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State."

But the delegates to the original Constitutional Convention determined that the Articles were not workable and proposed an entirely new Constitution, in effect discarding the Articles of Confederation without objection from the states. Fortunately, our Framers' objective was to codify Liberty as "endowed by our creator," and as specified in our Declaration of Independence.

They believed that all who followed in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and those duly authorized thereunder, would abide by their sacred oaths to Support and Defend" our Constitution.

According to Alexander Hamilton, "[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments."

If that legal and moral obligation had been compliantly observed, this column would not even be necessary.

So what is the risk that such lawlessness would hijack an Article V Convention, especially since, as James Madison questioned in his notes on Article V ambiguities, "How was a Convention to be formed? By what rule decide? What the force of its acts?" None of those questions are answered in the Constitution.

Federalist Society constitutional expert Michael Stokes Paulsen, Distinguished University Chair and Professor at St. Thomas School of Law, argues that such a convention would have the "power to propose anything it sees fit."

My colleague, Heritage Foundation constitutional scholar Matt Spaulding, notes, "The largest question is whether an amendments convention can be limited to specific amendments or even topics. The pro-convention argument assumes that the power to limit the convention is inherent in the power to call the convention in the first place. I’m not so sure that follows: The text says that upon application of the states Congress 'shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments,' not for confirming a particular amendment already written, approved, and proposed by state legislatures (which would effectively turn the convention for proposing amendments into a ratifying convention). Indeed, it is not at all clear as a matter of constitutional construction (and doubtful in principle) that the power of two-thirds of the states to issue applications for a convention restricts, supersedes, or overrides the power of all the states assembled in that convention to propose amendments to the Constitution."
Thus, given the persuasive power of the Leftmedia and Democratic Party conglomerate, their ability to advance populist measures for amendment consideration could spell the end of what remains of our Constitution.

But the second consideration about which of the two approaches should be taken to enact amendments is the overarching question of whether either approach will matter in the end. For as John Adams noted, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

If the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the central government do not abide by existing constitutional constraints, why would anyone believe they would abide by additional constraints in the future?

In either case, caveat emptor.

(Note: In an upcoming column, I will reintroduce a third measure, the establishment of a Constitutional Confederation of the States, to restore constitutional integrity, which affirms the Constitution as ratified, rather than seeks to amend it further.)

Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA aquifers poisoned by fracking? on: October 15, 2014, 01:55:11 PM
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Cheap oil pops the green policy bubble on: October 15, 2014, 01:53:38 PM
Cheap Oil Pops the Green Policy Bubble
Since the 1970s, Western politicians keep betting on $10 gasoline that never comes.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Updated Oct. 14, 2014 7:24 p.m. ET

Tesla, an electric-car company on which the political class has showered subsidies, rolled out its newest model last week, complete with high-tech safety features like lane-departure warning, blindspot monitoring, collision avoidance and self-parking. Tesla’s stock promptly dropped 8%, though probably not because these mundane features long have been available in other luxury models.

At $2.99, the price to which gasoline had fallen at some California stations last week, electric cars becoming a mass-market taste and not just an item for wealthy hobbyists recedes from probability. If Democrats especially start to find it politically no longer saleable to subsidize a toy for the rich, the company may be in real trouble.

Since World War I, the retail price of gasoline has fluctuated in a band between $2 and $4 (using 2006 dollars as a benchmark). Since the 1970s, though, politicians have repeatedly wedded themselves to policies premised on the idea that oil prices can only go up, up, up, in prelude to oil running out altogether.
A Renault Twizy electric car charging at a car-sharing station in Rome. ENLARGE
A Renault Twizy electric car charging at a car-sharing station in Rome. AFP/Getty Images

In fact, Tesla illustrates a theme from a column here back in 2008, when everyone from President George Bush to Nancy Pelosi to freshman Sen. Barack Obama was in a fever to simulate a deeper understanding of our Middle East entanglements by calling for new auto gas-mileage mandates.

These mandates, we pointed out at the time, would only divert tens of billions of auto-industry investment dollars to relatively mingy and uneconomic improvements in fuel mileage that car buyers don’t highly value. The real opportunity, meanwhile, was for revolutionary safety technologies like those Tesla is now belatedly introducing, which would necessarily be delayed by Washington’s misallocation of industry resources.

All through the 2000s this column applauded rising oil prices to ration existing supplies and stimulate new supplies to accommodate the growth of China and India. What goes up, though, must come down when investment produces a glut, when demand can’t keep pace with supply—and when major producers keep goosing production even at a falling price in order to keep producing revenues for domestic governments.

That’s what’s happening now. Saudi Arabia and Iran are slashing prices in pursuit of market share in suddenly slower-growing Asian markets. Vladimir Putin , whose budget goes red at an oil price below $110 (oil hit $84.43 Tuesday in London), is being pressed by his No. 1 crony, Igor Sechin of Rosneft, for $40 billion from the Kremlin’s welfare reserve to boost the Russian oil company’s output at a time when sanctions are cutting it off from Western capital and knowhow.

The price of fossil energy may well be depressed for a while given a strong dollar and the Western world’s governance-cum-growth failures. If so, undermined will be a lot of fantasy policies. Germany and Britain already rue their expensive commitments to renewables, which have caused local manufacturers to pull up stakes for North America and its cheap shale gas.

The Obama administration is not peopled exclusively by naïfs. An official once anonymously acknowledged that its bailout of the U.S. auto industry was certain at some point to run smack into its extreme fuel-mileage mandates (54.5 miles per gallon by 2025) that require the auto industry to invest in fuel-saving technology of little value to consumers.

We can be pretty sure, though, this non-naïf was not President Obama himself, who has acted consistently as if $10 gasoline must appear ahistorically and mystically to redeem his policies. In a major speech in 2011, he declared as a “fact” that oil prices must rise, demand must exceed supply, and America cannot depend on a “resource that will eventually run out.”

He obviously has not taken an inventory of the planet’s vast hydrocarbon stores, including methane hydrates.

What will happen next is easy to predict. Ex-GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz , seeing the world through reality glasses, has long called for a European-style gas tax to make Americans want the cars Washington is forcing GM to build.

Green energy promoter Vinod Khosla in the past lobbied a receptive Nancy Pelosi for a floating oil tax to “correct” periodic low prices, which he attributed to an oil-industry conspiracy.

Tesla’s Elon Musk will be heard again (as he was a few years ago) calling for a gas tax to turn a $2 wholesale commodity into $10 gasoline at the pump.

The ethanol industry, just now opening its first “cellulosic” ethanol plants, which require $3-plus gas to be profitable, will present its list of demands backed by the clout of corn-state senators.

Their rationale will be global warming. But U.S. cars and light trucks account for 3% of global emissions, a share rapidly vanishing to nothingness as India and China develop. The real motive will be bailing out the joint public-private (i.e., crony) investment in policies that don’t work in a world of falling gas prices.
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pandemic the Board Game on: October 15, 2014, 01:30:33 PM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's spy chief on: October 15, 2014, 01:25:33 PM
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Responding to a Chronic Terrorist Threat on: October 15, 2014, 01:23:55 PM
Second post

Responding to a Chronic Terrorist Threat
Security Weekly
Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 03:00 Print Text Size

By Scott Stewart

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to speak at a Risk Management Society meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. During my presentation, I shared some of the points I made in last week's Security Weekly -- namely, that the jihadist movement, which includes groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda, is resilient and can recover from losses if allowed to. There is no military solution to the jihadist movement: It is an ideological problem and must be addressed on the ideological battlefield, and thus jihadists are a persistent threat.

In response to these points, an audience member asked me if I thought the United States was wasting its time and treasure in Iraq and Syria (and elsewhere) by going after jihadist groups. After answering the question in person, I decided it would make a good follow-on topic for this week's Security Weekly. 
Third-Tier Priority

First, it is important to understand that, historically, the success al Qaeda has had in executing large attacks is not due to the professionalism of its operatives and attack planners. Indeed, as I have previously noted, in addition to foiled attacks such as Operation Bojinka and the Millennium Bomb Plot, al Qaeda operatives were also nearly detected because of sloppy tradecraft and operational security mistakes in successful attacks such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 East African embassy bombings, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and even the 9/11 attacks.

These mistakes weren't trivial. In the 1993 World Trade Center case, one of the two operational commanders whom al Qaeda sent to New York to assist in the plot, Ahmed Ajaj, was caught entering John F. Kennedy International Airport with a Swedish passport that had its photo replaced in a terribly obvious and amateurish manner. Authorities also found a suitcase full of bombmaking manuals with Ajaj. His partner, Abdel Basit (widely known as Ramzi Yousef), called Ajaj while he was in jail looking to recover the bombmaking instructions. Before the East Africa embassy bombings, authorities had identified the al Qaeda cell responsible and detected their sloppy preoperational surveillance of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The leader of the group, Wadih el-Hage, was asked to leave Kenya, and he returned to his home in Dallas, where the group continued with its plans for attack in Africa. The perpetrators of the USS Cole bombing attempted to attack the USS The Sullivans in January 2000, but their boat was overloaded with explosives and foundered. Finally, among other mistakes the 9/11 attackers committed, Mohamed Atta had been cited for driving without a valid license and was the subject of an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on those charges.

Al Qaeda was able to succeed in these attacks because terrorism had become a third-tier priority for the U.S. government in the 1990s, and very few resources were dedicated to fighting terrorism. Even fewer resources were dedicated specifically to the jihadist threat. Thus, significant leads were not followed in each of these cases.

The success of U.S. counterterrorism programs in the post 9/11 era cannot be attributed to the creation of the bloated and redundant bureaucracies of the Department of Homeland Security or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In fact, any achievements have come despite these organizations and the inefficiencies they have created. The real change is that terrorism is now identified as a significant threat, and countering the terrorist threat has been made the primary mission of every CIA station, FBI field office and NSA listening post on Earth. Indeed, all the tools of national counterterrorism power -- intelligence, law enforcement, foreign policy, economics and the military -- are now heavily focused on the counterterrorism mission.

Though the jihadist threat has persisted since 9/11, the intense pressure applied to jihadists by the combined force of myriad counterterrorism tools has made it difficult for the militants to project their terrorist power into the United States and Europe. These counterterrorism tools will not eradicate jihadism, but the threat jihadists pose regionally and transnationally can be contained and abated with their use. As I mentioned last week, jihadist operatives who possess advanced terrorist tradecraft are hard to replace, and arresting or killing such individuals hampers the ability of jihadist groups to project power regionally and transnationally. Ignoring the jihadist threat and allowing it to again become a third-tier issue will permit the jihadists to operate with relative impunity, as they did in the 1990s.
Ideological Change Is the Key

Another reason to maintain physical pressure on jihadist groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State is that pressure works to counter the groups' claims of divine blessing. That al Qaeda leaders claim to trust in God for protection and then hide as far underground as possible has caused many jihadists to criticize the group. Furthermore, though many jihadists treated the killing of Osama bin Laden as a joyous martyrdom, it caused other jihadists to question why the leader of al Qaeda was living in a comfortable home with his family while others were fighting on the front lines in his name.

When the Islamic State made impressive gains in Iraq and Syria in June, it boasted that it was being blessed by God, was therefore invincible and was going to continue until it conquered the world. It is quite common to hear such statements in Islamic State propaganda, including the following comments made in a video after the massacre of a group of Syrian soldiers who were taken captive after the siege of the Syrian 17th Division base near Raqqa on July 26: "We are your brothers, the soldiers of the Islamic State. God has favored us with His grace and victory by conquering the 17th Division -- a victory and favor through God. We seek refuge in God from our might and power. We seek refuge in God from our weapons and our readiness."

Such claims, when backed by dramatic battlefield successes, can have a discernible impact on many radical Muslims, who begin to wonder if the Islamic State is really becoming as inexorable as it claims to be. This illusion of divine support and invincibility has greatly assisted the group in its efforts to recruit local and foreign fighters, to raise funds and to garner support from regional allies.

Conversely, the blunting of the group's offensive on the battlefield has tempered the Islamic State's boasting. Though reports that U.S. and coalition aircraft missed key targets such as the Islamic State headquarters may reflect that the United States was a bit behind the intelligence curve, they also demonstrate that the Islamic State was abandoning the facilities, fearful of airstrikes. The sight of Islamic State fighters reacting fearfully to coalition aircraft will help slow recruitment efforts and should cause already skeptical jihadists to think twice before joining the group or swearing allegiance to it.

Doubts stemming from battlefield losses about whether God is blessing the Islamic State should also bolster efforts against the group on an ideological front. For example, on Sept. 19, a group of 126 Islamic scholars from across the globe published an open letter to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The scholars used the letter to address what they consider to be 24 points of error in the theology espoused by the Islamic State. These errors encompass a number of issues, including the nature of the caliphate; the authority to declare jihad; the practice of takfir, or proclaiming another Muslim to be a nonbeliever; the killing of innocents; the mutilation of corpses; and the taking of slaves.

The letter ends with a plea for al-Baghdadi and his followers: "Reconsider all your actions; desist from them; repent from them; cease harming others and return to the religion of mercy." It is unlikely that many of the hardcore jihadists will do as requested, but as these theological arguments are circulated and discussed, they will help undercut the ideological base of the jihadists and make it harder for them to convince impressionable people to join their cause. The effects of these theological critiques will not just be confined to the Islamic State; they will apply equally to al Qaeda and other groups that hold similar doctrines and commit similar acts.

Moreover, mainstream Muslim theologians have not been the only ones critical of the group. Jihadist ideologues such as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada have also been critical of the Islamic State's activities and pronouncements.

Fighting the ideological war will undoubtedly be a long process. In the interim, the United States and its allies will have to continue applying pressure to groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda in an effort to contain them and limit the chronic threat they pose.

Read more: Responding to a Chronic Terrorist Threat | Stratfor
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244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Super Chaos? on: October 15, 2014, 01:18:09 PM

Super Chaos?
Global Affairs
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 03:02 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan

By Robert D. Kaplan

The words anarchy and chaos are everywhere in the news. Iraq has collapsed. Syria collapsed some time ago, as did Libya and Yemen -- even as Yemen now threatens to enter deeper depths of implosion with al-Houthi insurgents having entered and virtually surrounded the capital of Sanaa. Civil war in Lebanon periodically threatens to reignite. Egypt has required a rebirth of authoritarianism to keep order there. Afghanistan and Pakistan are never far from the abyss. Ukraine is a weak state threatened with further Russian military aggression. A wall of disease has been erected in West Africa in states that collapsed into anarchy in the late 1990s and have been limping along ever since. Nigeria faces an Islamic insurgency that is, in turn, indicative of regional tensions between Muslims in the north of the country and Christians in the south. South Sudan, midwifed into existence by Western elites, has been in a circumstance of tribal war. The Central African Republic, beset by religious violence that has killed thousands, can in no sense be called a functioning state. The same can be said of Somalia, though the worst of the threat posed by Islamic extremists there may be past. New shortages of rationed food items in Venezuela may mean more upheaval there. And there are other places around the globe -- called states in the polite language of diplomats and development experts -- that travelers' accounts away from the capital cities reveal are no such thing.

I worried aloud about such a world in a lengthy 1994 essay in The Atlantic Monthly, "The Coming Anarchy." The core of my argument was that with European empires gone, not every place in the world will necessarily have the capability to maintain functioning institutions in far-flung countrysides, and that absolute rises in population, ethnic and sectarian divides, and especially environmental degradation (i.e., water shortages) will only make such places harder to govern. My argument only seemed hopeless if you believed in the first place that elites could engineer reality from above. Of course elites can affect destiny at pivotal moments, but the actual character of large geographical swathes of the earth will only be determined by the masses living there.

But what if such chaos as we have seen in small- and some medium-sized states over time happens in larger states? What if, for example, the two dominant territorial forces on the Eurasian mainland, Russia and China, prove deeper into the 21st century to be ungovernable by centralized means? I am not predicting this. I personally do not think this will happen. But I believe it is a worthwhile thought experiment to conduct and entertain. For even the partial unraveling of Russia or China would have dramatic geopolitical effects far beyond their borders. Europe, after all, has throughout its history had its fate substantially determined by eruptions from the east -- in Russia. Southeast Asia, the Korean Peninsula and even the island nation of Japan have often had their fates substantially determined by changes in China. If we do not think the unthinkable, therefore, we are being irresponsible.

The fear of chaos has always been central to Russian history. Russia's landmass encompasses half the longitudes of the earth, with the result that central control must be oppressive merely to be effective. Adding to this sense of oppression is the perennial fear of invasion. Indeed, Russia is a land power with few natural borders in any direction. Oppressive, autocratic regimes have a tendency to foster weak institutions, since rule in such circumstances is personal rather than bureaucratic. Of course, the stories of Russia's impenetrable and inefficient bureaucracy are legion, but this reality has only caused its rulers -- czars and commissars both -- to be even more oppressive in their attempts to overcome it. To wit, the way in which President Vladimir Putin rules Russia is merely a culmination of how Russia has been ruled for more than a millennium. Putin rules in Politburo style, with a somewhat opaque circle of advisers who control all the major levers of power, military and civilian. Natural resource revenues, especially those of oil and natural gas, become tools of central authority in this case.

Russia is not a world of stable, impersonal and rules-based institutions but a world of rank intimidation and of whom you know. If this is the case -- if Putin has created a rule by a camarilla, which by its mere existence weakens institutional checks and balances -- what will happen to Russia after he leaves or is forced from office? Voices in the Western media wax hopeful that Putin can be toppled if he miscalculates on his military intervention in Ukraine. But were that to occur, it is more likely that Russia itself could weaken or fall into chaos, or that an even more brutal dictator would emerge to forestall such chaos. And were there to be a crisis in central authority in Moscow, expect far-flung regions such as Siberia and the Russian Far East to gain more autonomy, formally or informally. In other words, the partial breakup of Russia may be more likely than the emergence of Western democracy in Russia. The years of former President Boris Yeltsin's incompetent rule in the 1990s should be a warning of what to expect from Russian democracy.

The fear of chaos has often been prevalent throughout history in China. For thousands of years, one Chinese dynasty has followed another. But not every dynasty has been able to control all or most of Chinese territory, and between the fall of one dynasty and the rise of another there has periodically been chaos. The Chinese Communist Party is just the latest Chinese dynasty, which itself emerged following a long period of war and chaos. Now this latest dynasty faces a tumultuous economic transition from an Industrial Age, smokestack economy driven by low wages and a massive volume of exports to a postindustrial, cleaner and high-tech economy featuring higher wages and a somewhat lower volume of exports. Chinese President Xi Jinping is using an anti-corruption campaign as a sort of great purge to re-centralize the Party for these economic rigors ahead. It is highly unclear whether he can succeed. Meanwhile, democratic tendencies stir, as we have seen in Hong Kong.

If Xi only partially succeeds, let alone fails, there is the possibility of sustained ethnic unrest at increasing levels among the Muslim Turkic Uighurs in western China and the Tibetans in southwestern China. So do not necessarily expect China to be as stable over the next 30 years as it has been for the last 30.

In sum, just because autocracy has failed does not mean that democracy can work. And just because the tumultuous, dramatic weakening of central control in big states has not happened yet does not mean it is implausible.

Read more: Super Chaos? | Stratfor
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245  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / FMA article from 1900 on: October 15, 2014, 12:54:43 PM
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ebola on: October 15, 2014, 12:28:34 PM
Giving Ebola its' own thread.  Prior posts can be found on the Epidemics thread:
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 15, 2014, 12:02:52 PM
As always, "Profit or prophet-ize?"
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Houston's lesbian mayor subpoenas sermons on homosexuality on: October 15, 2014, 11:02:02 AM
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 15, 2014, 12:03:49 AM
Ummm , , , sorry but Wesbury has been decisively kicking the collective ass of this board when it comes to predicting the market, and inflation.
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck, Moses and the Statue of Liberty on: October 14, 2014, 01:41:53 PM
second post of the day  You will need to click on the clip in question which gives one minute.  Then to get to the next minute, you click on the next clip, etc.

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